“Described by Kitaj himself in the 1994 retrospective exhibition as rather “graceless”, the painting takes as its subject the murder of the revolutionary marxist Rosa Luxemburg in 1919, in the aftermath of the failed uprising in Berlin by forces of counter-revolution acting in connivence with the Social Democratic government. It is not the subject of the painting that is interesting, but the various strategies, evident in the picture, involved in the attempt of producing a painting of a political subject which opens up the pictorial space to questions of history and meaning. The painting works to draw attention to the ways in which an event can act as a locus around which revolve a series of accounts and historical narratives. Such narratives and accounts, however, do not necessarily coexist peacifully but are mobilised to justify the interpretation advocated by any one party within the continuous contest of meaning that is the painitng’s discourse, which is not to argue for a form of cultural relativism, but merely a recognition of the struggle that takes place over interpretation. Part of the gracelessness of the picture, perhaps, is the visibility of the processes of construction and containment that for some are meant to remain effaced within an aestheticised realm.”
John Lynch, “The Murder of Rosa Luxemburg: monuments, documents, and meanings”, en Critical Kitaj: essay on the work of R.B. Kitaj.