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It Speaks to Me: Alexandra Grant on R.B. Kitaj's 'How to Read' at LACMA

December 15, 2010 |  3:13 pm

Howtoread R.B. Kitaj did a series of screen prints by photographing 50 book covers from his own library. There’s a wide variety of titles, from “The Wording of Police Charges” and the Penguin version of Margaret Mead’s “Coming of Age in Samoa” to this Ezra Pound cover of “How to Read.” Kitaj was a bibliophile, if not a bibliomaniac, and saw reading as a fundamental part of his practice as an artist.

The beautiful thing about these images is that every book is well worn and well read. In the prints you can see the physical traces of reading: The book jackets are stained, worn or torn at the corners. When I was a teenager, Kitaj’s commitment to reading as a source for his work helped me understand the bridge that art can serve between the physical world and the intellectual.

— Alexandra Grant, as told to Jori Finkel

Image: R.B. Kitaj, "How to Read, 1969." Courtesy LACMA/Museum Associates.