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Eclipse of God (After the Uccello Panel Called Breaking Down the Jew's Door)

R. B. Kitaj (American, 1932-2007)

Eclipse of God (After the Uccello Panel Called Breaking Down the Jew's Door), 1997-2000

  • Oil and charcoal on canvas
  • 35 15/16 x 47 15/16 in. (91.3 x 121.8 cm)
  • The Jewish Museum, New York
  • Purchase: Oscar and Regina Gruss Memorial and S. H. and Helen R. Scheuer Family Foundation Funds, 2000-71

Not on view

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Eclipse of God (After the Uccello Panel Called Breaking Down the Jew's Door)

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Eclipse of God (After the Uccello Panel Called Breaking Down the Jew's Door)

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Eclipse of God has a bipartite composition. On the left, taking up more than half the canvas, is an interior space. On the right, separated from the interior space by a wall that the viewer sees crosswise (almost like a stage set), is an exterior space.

The interior space represents a room in a Jewish home. There are four or five figures, all of whom are rendered with a gestural paint application. The blue background is also filled with loose, quick, multidirectional brushstrokes.

The Christian mob depicted outside on the right is painted with a brighter and lighter palette and more geometric forms. The light blue sky indicates that the scene occurs in daytime. There are larger planes of solid color on this side or the canvas. Within the mob, one character’s brow line and nose appear to make a cross.

Within each of the two sides of the composition, the viewer’s eyes travel along a lower-right to upper-left diagonal line, as it follows the figures’ bodies.

The weapon puncturing the door and the blood spilling under the wall are the only elements that physically connect the two halves of the composition. The directionally opposite movement of each of these forms balances the other. The orange and blue walls and red and green doorways—which are complementary color pairs—create a visual connection and balance between the different parts of the composition.

Kitaj leaves exposed (but primed) canvas in many places. He also lets his charcoal sketches of the architectural elements show through the paint in many places, lending the figures a transparent quality.