“The Rise of Fascism” belongs to a series of drawings and paintings that range from the early 1970s until the mid-1980s in which Kitaj focused on the human body in all its vulnerability. In this period, he became interested in Jewish history and the Holocaust more intensely than before. At the same time, Kitaj began to work with pastels, which he used almost exclusively in this painting.

In “The Rise of Fascism,” Kitaj tries to capture the atmosphere of the growing fascism in Europe. By the unfathomably dark sea, three women wait in lascivious poses, with a bomber visible on the horizon. In this painting, like in other works of the artist, the theme of Nazism takes on erotic connotations.

Kitaj’s pictures of bathers were inspired by the pastels of Edgar Degas (1834-1917) and the figure paintings in the later works of Paul Cézanne (1839-1906).

play mp3

R.B. Kitaj on his painting "The Rise of Fascism" (Excerpt from the exhibition's audio guide, narrator: Peter Rigney)