R.B. Kitaj (1932-2007) is one of the most intriguing 20th century artists. Born into a Russo-Jewish family near Cleveland, Ohio, 17-year old Kitaj spent 5 years at sea aboard a Norwegian freighter. He went on to study art in New York and Vienna. A Royal College of Art stipend made him move to London where he became a celebrated artist. Curating The Human Clay, a 1976 show of figurative contemporary British artists, he coined the term "School of London" for the artistic circle around Francis Bacon, Frank Auerbach, Lucian Freud, and Leon Kossoff. In 1991 he was elected a member of the Royal Academy, one of only three American painters to be thus honored in the history of the institution. A major 1994 retrospective at London's Tate Gallery failed to produce Kitaj's international breakthrough, but was unanimously panned by British critics instead. This, and the unexpected death of his wife Sandra, induced his increasingly paranoid perspective. Embittered he returned to the USA and settled in Los Angeles, where he finally took his own life in 2007. Kitaj left behind a manuscript unmatched among 20th-century artist autobiographies -- Confessions of an Old Jewish Painter. Eloquently describing his vices and sufferings, it stands in the traditions of both St. Augustine and Thomas de Quincey. Now published for the first time, it is a sensation, from both a literary and art historical point of view.