Yeah, Kitaj has always been a touchstone for me too.
There are all those stories about American artists from the 50s and 60s just going and knocking on Giacometti’s door, or Duchamp, or whoever—just going and meeting their heroes. For a while I was asking my painter friends if there were any artists today that they could imagine doing that for–Kitaj was always my answer. How about you? Who’s door would you go knock on?
Rackstraw Downes (might actually go ok), Lucian Freud (probably wouldn’t), maybe Julie Mehretu, Dana Schutz, Terry Winters. There are several I’d like to meet out of curiosity (about what they’re like) more than superfan-dom. A few others who’ve already died, too, like Richard Diebenkorn, Leon Golub. Is Anselm Kiefer still living?
My brother RB Kitaj had many young people “knocking at his door.” Because he became such a hermit, especially in his later years, not many of these knocks were appreciated. He kept a rigid schedule of getting up very early, walking to his favorite cafe, reading there, walking home and working all day. He received visitors at 4PM, and it was only the visitor who fascinated him who ended up staying longer than his intention. However, he always loved a good intellectual discussion, as his admirers (and detractors) understand from his “literary” pictures.
diebenkorn has already been mentioned, and he’s a major touchstone for me. i remember as a young art student in the mid nineties wishing i could meet him, only to realize later that he was, in fact, dead before i’d even heard of him. for living artists (having become a bit more practical over the last decade) i’m really interested in hanging out with jerome witkin. i’ve gotten the chance to correspond with him a bit and it’s only intrigued me more. meeting painters such as cecilie brown and jack beal have been great events for me, but in each case there wasn’t much time to actually talk about anything. i get the sense with witkin i might get more of an audience… maybe next summer.
Yeah, I remember that Modern Painters article on Keifer last year . A visit to that compound sounded dangerous…throwing lead around, 40some makeshift studio buildings erected by underqualified assistants…
I’ve been thinking about this since you asked. W. Kentridge is an automatic response but I feel like I can barely believe he exists. That’d get awkward. –er, that’d start awkward.
How did those other guys do it? Without getting scared and tongue-tied.
mm–Paula Rego and Kiki Smith are my other choices. Somehow I feel like I’d be less weird to them.
it’s interesting that you open up the idea of other kinds of interactions (other than stopping by their studio). back at IU it was interesting to hear about matt [choberka]’s extended communication with kitaj, which i guess was via email or letter. i’ve enjoyed writting back and forth (by hand, nonetheless) with jerome witkin over the last couple of years. and just artists in general – even in our age of so many avenues of communication, the way we talk about our ideas and procedures and feelings about our work carries an intensity with it… i love just knowing that others are thinking in a similar way, that we can in fact have some meaningful understanding of our common and uncommon proclivities…
even a bit more – how much do you all communicate with those people who really got you started? for instance, i still write letters and emails with my high school art teacher and other instructors from pratt, etc… that stuff seems so vital to me…