Kitaj's death is ruled a suicide

The Oct. 21 death of artist R.B. Kitaj was a suicide by suffocation, the Los Angeles County coroner has found, saying the artist placed a plastic bag over his head.

A note and an empty medicine bottle were nearby when one of Kitaj's sons discovered the 74-year-old painter dead at his home, Capt. Ed Winter, a coroner's spokesman, said Tuesday.

Kitaj established his reputation while living as an American in London, where David Hockney became a close friend. The artist, known for figurative paintings employing patches of bright color, moved to L.A. after his wife's death in 1994 -- the same year that a large exhibition of his work was seen at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

-- Mike Boehm

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