R.B. Kitaj’s Covers for a Small Library
The artist R.B. Kitaj (1932–2007) was a self-professed bibliomaniac. In 1969 his love of books provided the inspiration for In Our Time: Covers for a Small Library After the Life for the Most Part—a portfolio of 50 screenprints depicting the covers of select books from the artist’s library. Made from enlarged photographic facsimiles of the actual covers, the prints replicate evidence of each book’s handling and use, such as torn bookjackets, stained pages, and worn bindings. Kitaj’s selections include books of significance to the artist (like Ezra Pound’s How to Read), as well as apparently random books or leaflets (like the city of Burbank’s annual budget for 1968–69) that reflect the idiosyncratic nature of Kitaj’s book collection, and of book collections in general. The portfolio—which will be displayed in its entirety—also speaks to connections between the visual arts and literature, as well as Kitaj’s and other artists’ perception of book as object.
Image: R.B. Kitaj. Towards a Better Life from In Our Time: Covers for a Small Library After the Life for the Most Part, 1969. Screenprint, 31 x 23 in. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Gift of S. A. Feld through The Martin S. Ackerman Foundation