"Who else would be so foolhardy and unrealistic as to try to conceive a Golem called Jewish Art at this time?"—R.B. Kitaj
As Kitaj grew older in the Los Angeles sunshine, surrounded by his sons and grandsons, he mourned the loss of his beloved wife, Sandra Fisher, and continued his search—questioning, defining, creating—a Jewish Art. Here, in his bright yellow studio, he continued his art-making practice. Driven by a steadfast work ethic and unwavering routine, he would paint and draw and write, every day, creating his Jewish Art.
Kitaj had struggled to define a Jewish Art, stating, "There is no simple definition except to say that a Jewish Art exists in the sense that I will it to exist."1
A golem is defined as a figure, created from dust or earth by a human, that is brought to life by a specific set of Hebrew letters and ritual incantations. It can be "a helper, a companion a rescuer." Kitaj’s golem, "Jewish Art," was brought to life through specifically selected subjects coupled with his ritual of mark-making, of dedicated mornings and afternoons in the studio. His art helped him work through the grief he was suffering, and rescued him from depression he had struggled with all of his life. His art became his companion. (He kissed a portrait of Sandra he kept in his studio, every day, leaving a mark where his lips touched the surface.) Through art, he created his golem—and through his golem, a Jewish Art was born.
Tracy Bartley studied painting and art conservation. Afterwards she was project coordinator at the Getty Conservation Institute in Los Angeles. As an exhibition restorer she gave advice to the exhibition on Charles Ray at the Museum of Contemporary Art. In 1999 she became the personal assistant of the artist Kitaj and is now the head of the R.B. Kitaj Estate.
Opening quotation: Kitaj, R.B. (2007). Confessions. Unpublished manuscript. Here: Kitaj, R.B. "USC: If my Title was UCS, with would mean that great Jew, the Unconscious" University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA. 20 October 2004. Jerome Nemer Lecture. ↩︎
Tracy Bartley (2016), Kitaj’s Art Golem. Article in the Exhibition Catalogue GOLEM.
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Chapter 7 - Doppelgänger: Selected Texts (3)
The Golem in Berlin
by Peter Schäfer
The Golem Lives On
With Texts by Martina Lüdicke, Anna-Dorothea Ludewig, Louisa Hall and Caspar Battegay
With Texts by Emily D. Bilski and Martina Lüdicke
With Texts by Emily D. Bilski, Christopher Lyon, Rita Kersting, Jorge Gil and David Musgrave
With Texts by Martina Lüdicke, Peter Schäfer, and Harold Gabriel Weisz Carrington
Horror and Magic
With Texts by Martina Lüdicke, Karin Harrasser, Cathy S. Gelbin, Helene Wecker and Anna Augustin
Out of Control
With Texts by Emily D. Bilski, Arno Pařík, Marc Estrin and Charlotta Kotik
With Texts by Joshua Cohen, Tracy Bartley, Cosima Wagner
Golem Catalog Online
Selected texts from our catalog
Golem Catalog – Print Version
The full version of our catalog is available in German.
Exhibition catalogs, the JMB Journal, book series, and more
All About ...
Trailer, views of the exhibition, and more
23 Sep 2016 to 29 Jan 2017