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If Not, Not
© R.B. Kitaj

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If Not, Not 1975 - 1976

Not on display

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.

Glossary Open


Sculpted portrait consisting of the head and the top of the shoulders.



  • Acc. No. GMA 1585
  • Medium Oil and black chalk on canvas
  • Size 152.40 x 152.40 cm (framed: 170.90 x 170.50 x 9.60 cm)
  • Credit Purchased 1976