About this artwork

This is probably Kitaj's best-known and most complex work. The artist stated that the painting related to T S Eliot's poem 'The Waste Land'; the poet is depicted at the bottom left, wearing a hearing aid. The building in the top left corner is the gatehouse to Auschwitz. Below it lies a scene of cultural disintegration and moral collapse. The stagnant water, the dead and blackened trees, and the books scattered about the landscape, speak of death and destruction. A Matisse bust (coincidentally a variant of the one owned by the gallery) lies broken in the centre foreground. The small figure of the man in bed, holding a baby, is a self-portrait.

Ronald Brooks Kitaj

Ronald Brooks Kitaj