Kitaj: The Architects Colin St John Wilson and MJ Long

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RB Kitaj started painting The Architects in August of 1979 to celebrate the remodelling of his home by MJ Long. Painted largely without the models themselves present, this portrait of his friends against the backdrop of the stepped bookcase designed for him by MJ marks a transition in Kitaj’s development as an artist.

This Kitaj: The Architects book collects the diary entries of his subjects through each sitting session, from the first preliminary sketches to the final delivery of the painting in late 1981. Providing a revealing insight into Kitaj’s artistic method, Colin St John Wilson (architect of Pallant House Gallerys new wing) and his wife MJ Long’s observations capture the creative process through the explorations of initial ideas to the finished artefact. Fragmentary traces of conversations within the entries bring the relationships between artist and models to life, offering informed glimpses into the artist’s thoughts about the work and how he positioned it with regard to art history. Photographs of the canvas from various stages of the painting process capture the gradual build up of layers, the subtle shifts in composition and Kitaj’s refinements of his subjects’ characteristic poses.


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