Born in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, in 1932 Kitaj studied at the Cooper Union Institute in New York. He was a student at the Academy of Fine Art, Vienna in 1951. He later moved to England where he attended the Ruskin School, Oxford and later at the Royal College of Art. It was whilst at the Royal College of Art that he met David Hockney, and the two artists became good friends.
In 1976 Kitaj formulated and brought together an extraordinary exhibition for the Arts Council of Great Britain utilising the exceptional skill of some of our leading British Artists, the role of talent included such names as David Hockney, Henry Moore, Leon Kossoff, Frank Auerbach, Francis Bacon and Lucien Freud. The Catalogue for this exhibition is also worthy of note for containing what is considered one of the most important art essays of the period. in which Kitaj boldly proposed a 'School of London' for figurative artists, a term which has stuck with the artists of this exhibition.
In 1985 he became the first American since Sargent to be elected to the Royal Academy. His work is coveted globally, such is it's popularity. Kitaj has had numerous retrospectives of his art worldwide and just recently a specially devoted room to his work at the Royal Academy of Art in London.