Oil on canvas
Unframed: 182.9 x 61 cm (72 x 24 in.)
© Marlborough Gallery, New York
Gift of Agnes Gund 1998.179
Cleveland-born artist R. B. Kitaj has nurtured a lifelong infatuation with baseball. Like many Cleveland fans, he waited more than 40 years for his hometown team to win a championship. When the Indians won the American League pennant in 1995, he began to work on The Cleveland Indian,the first painting he completed after moving to Los Angeles in 1997 from London, his home for 38 years. The solitary figure is not meant to be a portrait of a specific player, but refers to the team and its players in a general way. The figure's posture was inspired by a batter depicted in a small watercolor by Thomas Eakins (Baseball Players, Practicing, in 1875). Kitaj also relied on recent numerous newspaper articles and photographs to refine his rendering, yet he kept the background ambiguous, giving free rein to his interest in abstract forms, expressive brushwork, and vivid color.
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