The architect MJ Long on her friendship with RB Kitaj

MJ Long, architect and long-time friend of Kitaj, talks of the artist and what it was like sitting for one of his paintings

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Architect MJ Long first met the artist RB Kitaj at a Cambridge Art Society evening lecture. "He stood hunched over his text reading," says Long. "It was the most intense talk I have ever been to, the kind of talk that was fascinating, but if you thought about one sentence you missed the next one."

Over the years their friendship grew and when Kitaj bought his house in Chelsea, Long was the person he asked to manage the project design.

"I was very conscious that it was not a place to be clever because he was going to be working there everyday", explains Long.

In celebration and thanks for the completion of the project, Kitaj asked Long and her family to sit for a painting. The family portrait, The Architects (1981), depicts MJ Long and her husband Colin St John Wilson (Sandy) in the artist's remodelled home - including the stepped bookcase especially built for the space.


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