David Hockney has condemned “vicious” attacks by art critics on his late friend and fellow artist RB Kitaj, who is taking revenge on them from beyond the grave in a memoir to be published in September.

The memoir was found among Kitaj’s possessions after his death in 2007 and, in the preface, Hockney expresses dismay over the critics’ treatment of his lifelong friend, who was born in the US.

Hockney writes that the “attacks were vicious, appalling”, and questions how newspapers could publish them.

Kitaj received the Golden Lion award at the Venice Biennale in 1995, and his admirers included the influential critic Robert Hughes, who wrote that he “draws better than almost anyone else alive”.

But in 1994, his major Tate retrospective was savaged by a number of British critics.

They included Brian Sewell, who described Kitaj as “unworthy of a footnote in the history of figurative art”.

Shortly afterwards, Kitaj’s wife, Sandra Fisher, who was also an artist, died suddenly aged 46 from an aneurysm. He believed that the pain inflicted by his critics took a toll on her health. Embittered, Kitaj returned to the US, where he later killed himself aged 74. read more