Here for sale is an ORIGINAL hand SIGNED , LIMITED and NUMBERED (22/200) LITHOGRAPH piece by the acclaimed Israeli artist of Polish-Lithuanian descent (Born in Wilna-Vilna-Vilnius in Lithuania-Poland) , The beloved and most admired painter , The HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR from the WILNA GHETTO – SAMUEL BAK. Depicting a typical SURREALIST dramatic IMAGE , Somewhat catastrophe , After a WAR or an EARTHQUAKE (WW2 – The HOLOCAUST) of a SMOKING CREMATORIUM CHIMNEY emerging out of a group of half ruined houses Shtetl houses? – What a symbolic image. The LITHOGRAPH was made in a VIVID COLORS of such quality , That it’s quite difficult to determine that it’s a LITHOGRAPH rather than an original oil painting. It was HAND SIGNED in English (BAK) and NUMBERED (22/200) by BAK with pencil. A LIMITED EDITION of only 200 copies. Sheet size is around 22 x 18 (Not accurate). The actual image size is around 20″ x 16 “. Extremely heavy ETCHING paper. No stains , Tears or creases. The colors are extremely VIVID (Pls look at scan for accurate AS IS images). The piece will be sent rolled in a special protective rigid sealed tube. AUTHENTICITY : This is an ORIGINAL vintage hand signed limited and numbered 22/200 LITHOGRAPH , NOT a reproduction or a reprint , It holds life long GUARANTEE for its AUTHENTICITY and ORIGINALITY. Will be sent rolled in a special protective rigid sealed tube. Estimated duration 14 days. Samuel Bak (born 12 August 1933) is a Polish-Jewish painter and writer who survived the Holocaust and immigrated to Israel in 1948. Since 1993, he has lived in the United States. Contents [hide] · 1Biography · 2Artistic style and influences · 3Selected publications · 4Selected museum exhibitions · 5References · 6External links Biography Shmuel Bak was born in Vilna – Wilno, Poland (now Vilnius, Lithuania), Bak was recognized from an early age as possessing extraordinary artistic talent. He describes his family as secular, but proud of their Jewish identity. When Vilna was occupied by the Nazis on June 24, 1941, Bak and his family were forced to move into the Vilna Ghetto. At the age of nine, he held his first exhibition inside the ghetto. Bak and his mother sought refuge in a Benedictine convent where a Catholic nun named Maria Mikulska tried to help them. After returning to the Vilna ghetto, they were deported to a forced labour camp, but took shelter again in the convent where they remained in hiding until the end of the war. By the end of the war, Samuel and his mother were the only members of his extensive family to survive. His father, Jonas, was shot by the Germans in July 1944, only a few days before Samuel’s own liberation. As Bak described the situation, when in 1944 the Soviets liberated us, we were two among two hundred of Vilna’s survivors–from a community that had counted 70 or 80 thousand. Bak and his mother as pre-war Polish citizens were allowed to leave Soviet-occupied Vilna and travel to central Poland, at first settling briefly in ód. They soon left Poland for good and traveled into the American occupied zone of Germany. From 1945 to 1948, he and his mother lived in Displaced Persons camps in Germany. It was there he painted a self-portrait shortly before repudiating his Bar Mitzvah ceremony. Bak also studied painting in Munich during this period, and painted “A Mother and Son”, 1947, which evokes some of his dark memories of the Holocaust and escape from Soviet-occupied Poland. In 1948, Bak and his mother immigrated to Israel. In 1952, he studied art at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem.  After serving in the Israel Defense Forces, he continued his studies in Paris and spent various periods of time in Rome, Switzerland and Israel before settling permanently in the United States.  The Family, oil on canvas, 1974 Artistic style and influences Samuel Bak is a conceptual artist with elements of post-modernism as he employs different styles and visual vernaculars, i. Surrealism (Salvador Dali, René Magritte), analytical cubism (Picasso), pop art (Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein) and quotations from the old masters. The artist never paints direct scenes of mass death. Instead, he employs allegory, metaphor and certain artistic devices such as substitution: toys instead of the murdered children who played with them, books, instead of the people who read them. Further devices are quotations of iconographical prototyes, i. Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam” (1511/12) on the Sistine Ceiling or Albrecht Dürer’s famous engraving entitled “Melencholia” (1516). He turns these prototypes into ironical statements. Irony in the art of Samuel Bak does not mean parody or derision, but rather disenchantment, and the attempt to achieve distance from pain. Recurring symbols are: the Warsaw Ghetto Child, Crematorium Chimneys or vast backgrounds of Renaissance landscape that symbolize the indifference of the outside world. These form a disturbing contrast with the broken and damaged images in the foreground. Samuel Bak’s paintings cause discomfort, they are a warning against complacency, a bulwark against collective amnesia with reference to all acts of barbarism, worldwide and throughout the ages, through his personal experience of genocide. While Bak’s work is complex and difficult to characterize, a few themes stand out: · In Childhood Memories, 1975, the pear, possibly the fruit of knowledge, evokes the loss of paradise and discovery of war. Pear trees are also ubiquitous in many areas of Europe, especially Vilna, where Bak grew up. · The possibility of repair, the repair of a broken world, tikkun olam, is an important meaning contained in many of his still life works. · Bak’s childhood frustration with the story of Genesis, and his admiration for the genius of Michelangelo, blend in his post-Holocaust visiting of this theme. · Still lifesin times when life is never still, never sufficiently protected, nor granted to everyoneattracted him as a metaphor full of symbolic implications. · Chess as a theme of life has always fascinated Bak. In the DP camps and in Israel, he often played chess with his stepfather Markusha. Underground II, 1997, portrays chess pieces in a sunken, subterranean evocation of the Vilna ghetto. · A solitary boy can also be seen in his works. The boy represents his murdered childhood friend, Samek Epstein, and the memory of himself as a child during theShoah. · In Baks 2011 series featuring Adam and Eve (which comprised 125 paintings, drawings and mixed media works), the artist casts the first couple as lone survivors of a biblical narrative of a God who birthed humanity and promised never to destroy it. Unable to make good on the greatest of all literary promises, God becomes another one of the relics that displaced persons carry around with them in the disorienting aftermath of world war. Viewers often describe Bak as a tragedian, but if classical tragedy describes the fall of royal families, Bak narrates the disintegration and disillusion of the chosen people. Bak draws upon the biblical heroes of the Genesis story, yet he is more preoccupied with the visual legacy of the creation story as immortalized by Italian and North Renaissance artists.  Bak continues to deal with the artistic expression of the destruction and dehumanization which make up his childhood memories. He speaks about what are deemed to be the unspeakable atrocities of the Holocaust, though he hesitates to limit the boundaries of his art to the post-Holocaust genre. A collection of Samuel Bak’s works are on permanent display at Pucker Gallery in Boston, Massachusetts. Selected publications · Samuel Bak, Paintings of the Last Decade, A. Kaufman and Paul T. Aberbach, New York, 1974. · Samuel Bak, Monuments to Our Dreams, Rolf Kallenbach. Limes Verlag, Weisbaden & Munich, 1977. · Samuel Bak, The Past Continues, Samuel Bak and Paul T. Godine, Boston, 1988 · Chess as Metaphor in the Art of Samuel Bak, Jean Louis Cornuz. Pucker Art Publications, Boston & C. Jewish Museum, Frankfurt, Germany, 1996. · Landscapes of Jewish Experience, Lawrence Langer. Pucker Art Publications, Boston & University Press of New England, Hanover, 1997. · Samuel Bak Retrospective, Bad Frankenhausen Museum, Bad Frankenhausen, Germany, 1998. · The Game Continues: Chess in the Art of Samuel Bak, Pucker Art Publications, Boston & Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 2000. · In A Different Light: The Book of Genesis in the Art of Samuel Bak, Lawrence Langer. Pucker Art Publications, Boston & University of Washington Press, Seattle, 2001. · The Art of Speaking About the Unspeakable, TV Film by Rob Cooper. Pucker Art Publications, Boston, 2001. · Painted in Words: A Memoir, Samuel Bak. Pucker Art Publications, Boston & Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 2002. · Samuel Bak: Painter of Questions, TV Film by Christa Singer. · New Perceptions of Old Appearances in the Art of Samuel Bak, Lawrence Langer. Pucker Art Publications, Boston & Syracuse University Press, Syracuse, 2005. · Samuel Bak: Life Thereafter, Eva Atlan and Peter Junk. Felix Nussbaum Haus & Rasch, Verlag, Bramsche, Osnabrueck, Germany, 2006. · Return to Vilna in the Art of Samuel Bak, Lawrence Langer. Pucker Art Publications, Boston & Syracuse University Press, Syracuse, 2007. · Representing the Irreparable: The Shoah, the Bible, and the Art of Samuel Bak, Danna Nolan Fewell, Gary A. Phillips and Yvonne Sherwood, Eds. Pucker Art Publications, Boston, and Syracuse University Press, Syracuse, 2008. · Icon of Loss: The Haunting Child of Samuel Bak, Danna Nolan Fewell and Gary A. Pucker Art Publications, Boston, and Syracuse University Press, Syracuse, 2009. · Retrospective Journey into the art of Samuel Bak. The South African Jewish Museum. Having survived its destruction, he emigrated in 1948 to Israel. He studied at the Bezalel Art School in Jerusalem and at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Subsequently he lived and worked in Rome, Tel Aviv, New York, and Lausanne. In an artistic career of over fifty years he has had numerous exhibitions in major museums, galleries, and universities throughout Europe, Israel, and the United States. Since 1993 he has resided with his wife, Josée, in the Boston area. Bak has been the subject of numerous articles, scholarly works, and fifteen books, most notable a monograph entitled Between Worlds. In 2001 he published his touching memoir, Painted in Words, which has been translated into several languages. He has also been the subject of two documentary films (one of them, Samuel Bak: The Art of Speaking About the Unspeakable, is viewable, below) and was the recipient of the 2002 German Herkomer Cultural Prize. Illuminations: The Art of Samuel Bak Samuel Bak explains his life growing up in Vilna, and explores his art as it relates to Facing History Samuel Bak: The Art of Speaking about the Unspeakable For over sixty years, from his first paintings as a child prodigy in the Vilna Ghetto, Samuel Bak has produced a remarkable body of work that has earned him an international reputation as a painter of thought-provoking images that raise challenging questions about essential life issues. This film explores the life experiences that have shaped his art through a candid and insightful conversation with the artist, selected recollections from his recently published memoirs, and a moving presentation of many of his most important works. The following essay is from Illuminations: The Art of Samuel Bak. Collection at Facing History and Ourselves. Facing History and Ourselves, Brookline, Massachusetts. Samuel Bak: Facing my own history and my story with Facing History and Ourselves Do you still paint? A journalist asked me. Do you still breathe? What a silly question! I felt assailed, perhaps humiliated. I have been painting paintings all my life, and now, after more than seven decades, I still assiduously do so. And as the saying goes: for reasons of the heart that the heart does not know. For me, being a painter means being possessed by a world of ghosts; and making the best of it. I believe that throughout my relatively long life I have created an oeuvre that at first sight might seem hardly decipherable, but in the long run reveals most of its hidden content. In the fifties and early sixties, at the period of my artistic formation, contemporary criteria of art did not allow storytelling. However, I felt compelled to shatter this taboo and paint my stories. No doubt the traumatic events of my childhood and their miraculous shifts and turns were at the core of my compulsion. Another word for compulsion would be inspiration. My use of symbols, icons and metaphors managed to keep the underlying horror of my world at bay; it protected me, and protected the future audience of my paintings. Since I was determined to connect with people, I knew that I had to create a space that evoked the ancient beauty of the old Masters. It would attract most viewers and make them respond to my uncomfortable visions. I was lucky; my plan worked. And I connected with many, and on many levels. My work has reached people of many different backgrounds, in various countries, of various ages. The concerns and the needs of the young public are close to my soul; and so are those of the teachers of Facing History and Ourselves, whose educational activity could not be more humane and more edifying. This organization has my unlimited admiration. Its leaders and I share similar visions of the world; a world plagued by racism, intolerance and discriminationyet a world packed with millions of young minds that can be nurtured and shaped. In short, we live in a world that cries out for repair. Since 1976, the year of my show at the Rose Museum in Waltham, my art has been added to the curriculum of the founders of Facing History. Indeed, the journey we share is quite a long one! How did this journey begin? Let me go back to the year when the Nazis seized power1933. I was born in Vilna, lovingly embraced by a large and happy family. We lived, so it later became apparent, in the wrong place and at the wrong time, because the community to which we belonged was destined for annihilation. I experienced the Ghetto, the labor camp and a hiding place in a Catholic convent. Mother and I survived, and so did my passion for creating images, and not mere images of colors and shapes, but images of the dangerous and troubling realities in which we lived. Realities that my imagination could transform, in accordance with the surging needs of my soul, and thus nourish my art. When I was 12, in a Displaced Persons camp in Germany, Mother made me read The Forty Days of Musa Dagh by Franz Werfel, a terrifying book on the massacre of the Armenians in Turkey. According to my mother, every Jewish child had to understand the meaning of the innumerable bloodstains of genocides that blemished the pages of our History books. Unknowingly she prepared me to empathize with the present concerns of Facing History. Little by little, the lost world of European Jewry, the world of murdered children, worlds that we humans perpetually struggled to repair with whatever we could save from the rubble, in short: the world of the inhuman human condition, turned out to be the ongoing subject of my paintings. Since 1959, the year of my first show in Rome, I have exhibited in many countries and worked with a good number of art dealers. But the major catalyst and sustainer of my art became Bernie Pucker of Boston. Bernie is a dear friend. For over four decades he exhibited my canvases in his gallery, devotedly labored to bring them to audiences of museums and public galleries, and in particular to the audiences of American students. He also facilitated access to my art through a variety of excellent art publications. In order to help him with these challenges it was necessary that I leave Europe and settle in Boston. Eighteen years ago, my wife Josée convinced me that she was ready to abandon her work in Switzerland, leave her language, culture, friends and close family, and like Ruth the Moabite, follow me to this chosen land. Her support was and still is critical to what I have been able to accomplish. We became American citizens. Larry Langer, the outstanding Holocaust scholar and critic, penetrating my images to their deepest layers of meaning, enthusiastically responded to my art and brought to it his unique talent of interpreter. I love the style of his lucid and powerful writing. Whenever I feel the approaching shadow of self doubt, I think of Larrys inspiring texts and find in them instant solace. And then there are my friends at Facing HistoryMargot, Marc, and all the dedicated and wonderful people who surround them, and who with time have created this indelible link between my art and their organization. This bond is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Tfu, tfu, tfu, Mother would saywhenever good things happened to herwe must hide all this from the Evil-Eye. She was a perfectly rational person, pretended to reject all superstitions, and all notions of it was meant-to-be. However in case, in case, since one never knows she believed that in order to remain on the safe side one had to renounce some sacrosanct principlessurrendering was worthwhile. It is to celebrate the memory of her existence, the memory of my stepfather Nathan, and the truncated lives of my father and my dear grandparents, victims of the Holocaust, that my artworks are being donated to Facing History. Today these paintings need no tfu, tfu, tfu. And meanwhile I shall go on painting more and more. As long as I keep on breathing. Samuel Bak, Weston, Massachusetts January 2010 Samuel Bak Speaking About the Unspeakable: A Lecture by Samuel Bak International Colloquy about the Holocaust and the Arts, which took place at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, October 2002. The Images in the gallery were works that Bak used in his presentation. “Speaking About the Unspeakable” is the title of a documentary film on my art that was recently produced in the US. I have rightly given today’s talk the same name. It will concern a number of paintings that I have selected from a large body of my work. All are a response to the miracle of my survival. More precisely, these paintings are a visual statement born of an ever-growing need to deal with my experience of having come through the horrors of the Holocaust, and of having done it by age eleven. The images that you will see have matured over a long span of time. Was this indelible experience the sole inspiration for these canvases? I can’t say. The creative process is a matter of such complexity that conscious intentions often eclipse subconscious needs. This question must remain open. I was born in Vilna in 1933, in a city that then belonged to Poland. It is now Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. A place so famous for its institutions of learning that it was called the Jerusalem of Lithuania. The members of my family were mostly secular, but were proud of their Jewish identity. The year 1939 shattered what had been for me a child’s happy paradise. Irrevocably, I was marked by traumatizing experiences — brutal changes of regime, Nazi occupation, ghetto, murderous “aktionen, ” labor camps, moments of great despair, escapes, and periods of hiding in unthinkable places. I lost many of my beloved ones, but my mother and I pulled through. She provided me with a shield of so much love and care that it must have saved my psyche. When in 1944 the Soviets liberated us, we were two among two hundred of Vilna’s survivors — from a community that had counted 70 or 80 thousand. This was not the end of our personal struggle, for there followed a dangerous escape from the Soviets and a long period of waiting in the DP camps in Germany. I was fifteen when we arrived to the newly established state of Israel in 1948, which was then battling for its independence. On and off, I spent there some fifteen years of my life. Gallery I The Family (1974 oil on canvas) is a painting that I have dedicated to the memory of the perished members of my family. An explanation of this work would be beyond the limit of my present time, so let me go on with the outline of my biography. During most of my last four decades, I have been indeed a wandering Jew. I have lived and worked in Tel Aviv, Paris, Rome, and Lausanne, and I presently reside in the US, in Boston. I have become a man who is at home everywhere and nowhere, an artist whose real roots are in the ground of his art. As I said earlier, and it may sound trite, I know that what I have been painting comes from a compulsive need to give meaning to the miraculous fact of my survival. It tries to appease a sad sense of bewilderment. It comes from the fear that in a world of unparalleled upheavals, things are never what they seem. My work reveals a reality observed through the eyes of a child who had suddenly aged. Some might call it elaboration of Trauma; I hope that my art is more than that. To conclude, it is not “Bak” who chose the Holocaust — it is rather the Holocaust that was put on “Bak’s” shoulders a very distinct, almost inescapable need to give testimony. I feel that we live in a world polluted by triviality. The Holocaust is a portentous subject. Artists who have chosen to deal with matters of importance, who are questioning the existential dimensions of life, death, good and evil, turn to the experience of the Shoah and believe that their images will stir emotions and stimulate reflection. Visual statements can be stronger than words. But the rhetoric of painting has its limitations. Visual Arts are mostly physical, they require places and spaces, and they can bear only so much moral weight. Besides, certain experiences demand verbal expression. For that reason I decided to complement my painterly output with a verbal one. The result is a memoir entitled Painted in Words. Enthusiastically prefaced by Amos Oz it was published in 2001 by Indiana University Press. My book is now part of a tuition program that trains American teachers to bring to their students the lesson of the Holocaust. Its vast array of implications is analyzed via a careful examination of literature, films, and the visual arts. As you can see, the aim of my writing, the desire to bring a decimated world back to life, at times with pain, sometimes with irony, and unmistakably with humor, was very close to what I try to achieve through my paintings. So let me return to the paintings on the screen. The recently published monograph on my art, which covers over fifty years of painting, has this image (Close Up, 2003 oil on canvas)on its jacket. If I had to define my art’s language or style, I would situate it in a realm of allegory and metaphor. I tackle a vast array of subjects. Devastated landscapes of ancient cities and urban constructions seem to have been made of a child’s building blocks. Figures are half-alive and half-contrived of bizarre prostheses. Abused angels stand helpless. Chess pieces are involved in games without rules. A revolution has wiped out kings, knights and bishops. It has installed an equality of imperfections. Huge fruit, mostly pears in various stages of reinvention, pears made of stone, pears in the form of hovering planets, pears giving birth to other pears represent a shattered and bewildering world, a universe that offers no explanations. At times one can see in many of these paintings the traces of a human effort to repair. But have these efforts managed to transform the world’s wreckage into a viable reality? Colors, mostly serene and bright, might hint at an element of hope. I hope they do. Finally, I should mention that my style is often said to border on the surreal. I have no problem with that, though you will surely recognize how deeply my vision is rooted in the facts of modern history. I wish now to focus on works that concern the Jewish experience of the 20th century. The Ghetto of Jewish History, 1976 oil on canvas. Here is an inclined surface with no horizon and no possibility of escape. Indeed, when we were thrown into the ghetto like human garbage, it felt like being in a deep hole. This hole is in the shape of the Star of David, the emblem of the ghetto. Near it lies our badge of identification. The texture of the painting tries to evoke the stony indifference of the outer world. After the liberation, when I revisited the ghetto, it stood in ruins similar to the ones in the painting. Here the title is Alone. It is another structure in the form of a Jewish star, an island surrounded by a menacing sea. The painting’s sky sheds an ominous light. At times I depicted it as if it were made of metal, wood, fabric or stone. Here are some examples. Yehudit Shendar Senior Art Curator Is Samuel Baks retrospective exhibition a look at the artists journey from the Vilna Ghetto to the green canopies of Ponary, burdened throughout with his horrifying experiences during the Shoah? Or, is the journey impelled by the burden itself? No simple answer presents itself. For what one encounters is a delicate array of connected vessels, and the stabilizing fluid is the sum total of the artists life and output, expressed in each of his works by its own unique equilibrium. The journey and the burden are interwoven, at times concealed beneath layers of abstract, anonymous paint, at times surfacing from between amorphous forms, and at times a sharp, clear and voluble manifesto. The blend of journey and burden is not unique to the biography of artist Samuel Bak. The paradigm of the stories of survivors who embarked on the voyage of life after their encounter with death in all its horror, and the baggage they carry with them is thus both personal and collective the story of European Jewry during the Shoah. Like his fellow survivors, at first Bak wrapped himself in silence, seeking to forge for himself an Israeli identity after his immigration to the country in 1948. Gradually, as his path took him across countries and continents, he shed the cloak of silence until he felt that he could no longer keep the burden locked inside. Thus began a journey of a different kind, into the recesses of his own identity, which culminated in a direct confrontation with the burden itself, with the realization that the burden was part of his ipseity and therefore bound to be the essence of his art. Viewers joining the six-decade-long journey of Samuel Baks works, as presented in this exhibition, are presented with a multi-faceted experience an encounter with an artist dealing head-on with the basic question of how underlying the language of art, with an artist debating with himself about the abstract, the figurative and the gamut between them. His varying stylistic periods reveal an artist capable of producing fine pencil drawings in the classical tradition, on the one hand, and thick, layered oil brushstrokes of pasticcio color on large canvasses. Every period reveals a little the configurative response of the artists journey in a sea of expressive artistic possibilities but conceals twice as much about the inner burden. Thus until the decisive juncture, where artistic expression and inner truth meet. The journey and burden are shaped into a single identity, which, while it may be paradigmatic, is nevertheless unique and private – the arduous road of Samuel Bak spanning sixty years of creativity. Biography 1933 On 12 August, Samuel Bak is born, in Vilna, to an educated, cultured middle-class family. 1941 On 24 June, the Germans occupy Vilna and order the Jews to don the yellow Jewish Badge. Bak, aged 8, is charged with preparing badges for his parents and extended family. On 6 September, the deportation of Jews to the Vilna Ghetto is initiated. Samuels father is sent to a labor camp while the child and his mother flee the ghetto to the home of Janina Rushkevich, his grandfathers sister who had been baptized in her youth. Janina finds shelter for the family in the citys Benedictine convent, where the nun Marija Mikulska takes the child under her wing and supplies him with paint and paper. When the Germans suspect the convent of collaborating with Soviet forces, they place it under military jurisdiction. The Bak family is forced to flee again, returning to the Vilna Ghetto. 1943 In March, the poets Avrom Sutzkever and Szmerke Kaczerginski invite the nine-year-old Bak to participate in an exhibition organized in the ghetto. Sensing that their end is near, the poets decide to deposit the Pinkas, the official record of the Jewish community, into the hands of Bak in the hope that they both survive. Paper is a precious commodity and the white pages of the Pinkas beckon the young artist: he uses them to satisfy his craving to draw. Over the next two years, Samuel fills the page margins and empty pages of the Pinkas. Baks father is sent to the forced labor camp HKP 526, named after a unit of the Wehrmachts Engineering Corps (Heeres Kraftfahr Park). Samuel and his mother are sent to the camp later, upon the liquidation of the ghetto, on 24 September. 1944 On 27 March, a childrens Aktion takes place in the camp in which 250 children are sent to their death. Baks mother takes advantage of the confusion in the camp to flee while Samuel hides under a bed in the living quarters of one of the camp buildings. A few days later, his father smuggles him out of the camp in a sack of sawdust. Outside, by a pre-arranged signal, he links up with a woman waving his mothers scarf. Janina Rushkevitch saved the family again, sending her maid with the mothers scarf to fetch the child. Samuel and his mother are forced to look for shelter. Again, they make their way to the Benedictine convent, where they find shelter for 11 months, until liberation. On 2-3 July, forced laborers rounded up at the citys camps, among them his father, are shot to death in Ponary, ten days before Vilnas liberation. After liberation, Bak takes art lessons with Prof. As pre-war Polish citizens, the family has the right to return to Poland and so move to Lodz. Bak begins to study with Prof. 1945 After a short time in Berlin, Samuel and his mother arrive at the Landsberg Displaced Persons Camp. They are greeted by survivor Natan Markowsky, who holds a senior position in the camps administration, and will later become Samuels stepfather. Bak is sent to Munich to study with Prof. He frequents the citys museums and becomes familiar with German expressionism. 1947 David Ben-Gurion visits Bad Reichenhall, where an exhibition of the art of the child prodigy, Samuel Bak, is organized in his honor. Baks art is published in the Hebrew newspaper, Davar HaShavuah, and the Yiddish Forverts in New York. 1948 Aged fifteen, Samuel arrives in Israel aboard the Pan York, carrying with him many artworks from the Landsberg DP camp. 1952 Prior to military service, he studies for one year at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design. 1953 1956 Military service in the I. 1955 Meets Peter Frye, then one of Israels most prominent theater directors, who prompts him to design backdrops and costumes. 1956 Moves to Paris and enrolls at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts. That summer he has a one-man show at the Robert Schneider Gallery in Rome and exhibits at the Carnegie International in Pittsburgh. 1964 Exhibits at the Venice Biennale. 1974 1977 Lives and works in New York. 1977 1980 Lives and works in Israel. 1980 1984 Lives and works in Paris. 1984 1993 Lives and works in Lausanne, Switzerland. 1993 Settles in Boston, Massachusetts and is represented by the Pucker Gallery. During the following years he often visits his hometown. Many exhibitions of his artwork are held in leading museums and galleries both in the United States and Europe. Samuel Baks art keeps Holocaust memories alive The artists latest exhibition, Illuminations: The Art of Samuel Bak, opens Friday and runs through April 30 at the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center. Eight large paintings by Bak, a Holocaust survivor, anchor the showing, which runs through April. But it was not exactly a pleasant experience. It occurred in 1943, after the country had fallen to Nazi occupation. Two poets had invited the young artist to reveal his already formidable talent at an exhibition organized in a Jewish ghetto in Vilna (now Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania). We went through a courtyard where there were a few hundred other people from another ghetto, Bak says. I was clinging to my mother and father. I felt so scared looking at these people who in about two days would be taken to Ponary, which was the big killing field of Vilna. The memory is still with me at every opening of an exhibition. The 81-year-old Holocaust survivor has had an unparalleled career presenting his artwork and all the accompanying emotional memories that go into it ever since. His latest exhibition, Illuminations: The Art of Samuel Bak, opens Friday at the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center. Eight large paintings by Bak anchor the showing, which runs through April. I very much cherish occasions where there is a meeting of my paintings with the public, he says. Its much more important than my meeting with the public. Bak says he hopes to attend the opening but has been sidetracked by damage his house sustained during the recent Boston blizzard. What I enjoy is when people bring something from their own life or experience to my work, he says. My paintings evoke that in people. My most extraordinary encounters of reaction to my work come from groups of teenagers. They seem to have a much more independent mind and possibility for imagination. Baks style offers a conceptual collage of classical, surrealism and pop art. His vivid pieces often employ the Holocaust imagery of his childhood, such as crematorium chimneys or Warsaw street scenes. He frequently incorporates provocative metaphors ranging from biblical imagery to the game of chess to the masterworks of Michelangelo. He says the title Illuminations, which was chosen by biographer Lawrence L. Langer, perfectly encapsulates his latest showing. How can we illuminate the experience? What is there behind that image that looks sometimes troubling or intriguing? I think its a beautiful title. To be illuminated means to get some light and to find your way. Given the circumstances of his upbringing, its remarkable Bak ever found his way out of Poland. When he was 10, the labor camp hed been sent to was purged of children by the Nazis, but his parents managed to smuggle him away in a sack of sawdust. He and his mother found tenuous safety by hiding in a Benedictine convent for nearly a year. However, his father was shot to death a mere 10 days before Vilna was liberated by the Soviets. Bak was first sent to study in Munich, where the young prodigys work began to draw international attention. At 15, he relocated to Israel. He eventually spent years at a time living and working in different art scenes: New York, Paris, Rome and Lausanne, Switzerland. In 1993, he permanently settled in Boston. Wherever he goes, the artist continues to be shaped by his harrowing wartime experience. This is a subject that is extremely difficult to understand and grasp, he says. In order to protect themselves, people have a tendency to sentimentalize things. The Holocaust is very frightening when you realize if you are born in a certain place at a certain date, and you have been educated like this or that, you can be a carrier of lots of dangerous ideas. In terms of the possibilities of human behavior, this is the most extraordinary laboratory that has shown the best and worst in people, whether they are the perpetrators or the victims. Does Bak agree with Anne Franks most famous assertion: I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart? This is sentimental rubbish, he says. Anne Franks book is a very sweet book for teenagers. Its a sweetened version of the Holocaust. She writes of a certain situation that is palpable: being hidden in a house, falling in love with a boyfriend. The real story of Anne Frank is that poor woman who is dying later in a concentration camp. But this is not part of the book. While Bak wrote a 2001 memoir about his life titled Painted in Words and is the subject of several documentaries, his core outlet is always art. I work seven days for about eight hours, like somebody who goes to the office. Im a very demanding boss, he says. Bak is quick to name the signature work that best captures his style and themes. Its always the next one, he says, the painting that I havent yet painted. Beyond Time: The Paintings of Samuel Bak LANGUAGE, LITERATURE & CULTURE Pakn Treger Written by Elizabeth Pols Published Spring 2010 / 5770 Part of issue number 61 The battered snapshot is vintage 1940s. An intense young man with wild hair and spectacles stares straight at us. On his knee sits a young boy wearing overalls and a shy, sweet smile. They are the poet Avrom Sutzkever and the painter Samuel Bak. More than a half-century after the photographer captured that moment, Sutzkever would write, The painter Samuel Bak is baked into my heart. Iz mir der moler Shmuel Bak azoy ayngebakn in hartsn. The phrase goes beyond sentiment or affection or even the kind of admiration a poet might have for a painter. To understand the relationship, you have to go back in time and in place, to Vilna, to the ghetto, to 1942, when nine-year-old Samuel Bak first met the great Yiddish poets Sutzkever and Szmerke Kaczerginski. There, a connection of such intensity between artists not only made sense, it was essential to survival. From the moment of their meeting, Sutzkever claimed the painter as my ghetto brother. He and Kaczerginski recognized Bak as a child prodigy, mentored him, and organized his first public exhibition in that ghetto. The three were among the few to survive the Nazis destruction of their city, and their lives would continue to intersect for decades to come. Just after liberation, as he and his mother were fleeing Vilna for Lodz, Poland taking only what they could carry the boy Bak entrusted many of his paintings and drawings to the safekeeping of the two poets. When Bak and Sutzkever both resettled in Tel Aviv in 1948, their friendship was renewed and grew. Sutzkever wrote about Baks painting and translated and published an early autobiography of Baks in his magazine Di goldene keyt. He also addressed several poems to Baks mother. In Gehernter Moyshe, he asked, Where did your son find the clay to do this Moses? The woman Baks mother answered, In the graves of the Jews. That Sutzkever, 96, should have died only days before Pakn Treger met with Bak in his Massachusetts studio made for a bittersweet segue into our conversation. Bak recalled that Sutzkever, in 1948, had donated a number of his friends preserved early paintings to the New York YIVO. The painter remembered that Sutzkever once gave me as a gift a manuscript of all the poems that he wrote under the German occupation in the ghetto. He had such a beautiful handwriting. Bak, in turn, donated the manuscript to YIVO in 2005, on the occasion of receiving the organizations Vilna Award for Distinguished Achievement. While they hoped that Bak might survive and preserve for the future this tangible chronicle of their citys history, their immediate motive was to supply the budding artist with drawing paper: the old Pinkas still had many blank and usable pages. Over the next year Bak filled the book with such vigorous drawings as the Moses (right). When the Nazis liquidated the ghetto in September of 1943, Bak hid the Pinkas under his coat as he and his mother were loaded onto a truck for the HKP labor camp. The Pinkas was his constant companion until the following March, when the childrens aktion forced the hasty and daring escape, engineered by his father, of Bak and his mother. During the escape the boy was hidden in a sack and lowered from a window. The Pinkas and his father were left behind. Painted in Words, Samuel Baks memoir, tells what became of that boy, his family, and thePinkas. In his foreword to the book, Israeli writer Amos Oz calls Bak one of the great painters of the twentieth century. Painted in Words, he says, is unique. Despite being suffused with a sense of loss, horror, degradation, and death, it is ultimately a sanguine, funny book, full of the love of life, rocking with an almost cathartic joy. Published in 2001, the memoir charts Baks peripatetic life from his 1933 birth, through the war in Vilna, and throughout the next 50 years. Says Bak from his comfortable home near Boston, where he and his wife, Josée, have spent the last 16 years the longest either of them has been in one place. He began life as the adored only child of ambitious parents who recognized and nurtured his artistic talent from his earliest childhood. Baks photographic memory enables him to evoke those idyllic prewar years with cinematic clarity just as he does the horrors that came after. His extended family and friends especially his grandparents are finely and lovingly depicted in Painted in Words, so much so that when they are killed in the woods of Ponary their loss became personal to this reader, 70 years after the fact. Says Bak about his life and the way it informs his work. My idea is to let out this thing which is the self that wells up in me. Because I had those parents, I had thosegrandparents, I had that war. Bak characterizes his painting as speaking about the unspeakable, and he identifies the late 1960s as the moment when he found his voice. The evolution of that voice involved an educational as well as an emotional odyssey. In post-liberation Vilna, Baks mother located the perfect first teacher for her son: the academician Professor Serafinovicz, who cultivated the boys natural draftsmanship by having him draw from the broken plaster casts she herself had dug from the ruins of the citys Academy of Fine Arts. In Lodz he studied with an impressionist; in Munich, a constructivist; in Jerusalem, an expressionist; and in Paris, a post-neo-classical cubist. Bak catalogs these teachers with affection and respect but still describes himself as self-taught. When I started painting with one artist, and the second, and the third, and the fourth, each one was telling me a very different story. So, it kind of cemented in me the sense that there is not such a thing as an absolute idea which is right. Bak soaked up most of his knowledge about art in museums rather than classrooms. To go from a Picasso to a Piero della Francesca and from there to a Bonnard and bring out all these connections which exist between them: this was my real learning. He spent 1956 to 1966 in Paris and Rome where there was an incredible freedom, you could do practically anything. But not tell stories in paintings, and not do anything which might be considered theatrical. In 1966, by then married and a father, Bak moved his growing family back to Tel Aviv. He also began to move his work in a radically new direction. Unexpectedly, a curator from the museum in Vilna (now Vilnius) contacted Bak with the news that the Pinkas had survived and might be available for him to borrow for retrospective shows. Those hopes were soon dashed by the start of the Six Day War and the consequent break in diplomatic relations between the Soviet Union and Israel. But the thought of the Pinkass survival unleashed a flood of memories just as time and distance from the Shoah were giving Bak the courage to face his past. That courage, together with his consummate technical skills and rebellious nature, compelled Bak to break with the reigning art establishment and make paintings that were not only narratives, but took as their subject the trauma of his dramatic survival. When you have a taboo in art its always interesting to break it. The stories can evolve in many different directions. So, its like life. To speak about the unspeakable, to tell those stories without making people shudder and turn away, Bak turned to the pictorial language of realism both that of the Great Masters and of the surrealists because it helps me to hide much better what the paintings want to reveal. I make the unspeakable look as if it happened in the 18th century. And maybe beyond place. In Stone Age (1968), a painting within a painting, we are poised between cataclysmic events. The ruined house and its torn trompe loeil canvas are testaments to recent devastation. It, and we, are set in a beautiful but claustrophobic landscape where at any moment the boulder-like clouds might crush us, might raze our improbably balanced little home. What is this unstable world, where a stony sky mirrors a stony ground; are we in a strange asteroid belt? In this ambiguous and threatening landscape we have no guide but the questioning artist, whose presence is implied by the inner canvas. In To the Memory of R. (1968) Bak marks the dead center of the composition with a bullet hole, one of three that shatter the colossal stone egg cup occupying the fore-ground of another exquisitely rendered but hostile landscape. Something awful has happened. Theres a more subtle, hallucinogenic air to In the Park: in the foreground of a gorgeously realized and glowing landscape (think Giorgione, think Titian) sits the stillest of still-lifes: a white teapot, a bowl and spoon, an empty eggshell, and cup. They are all of marble, all ancient, all enormous, all cracked. Has a powerful quake shattered a bizarre domestic monument? Is that really stone? And is that teapot really so monumental or has the painter toyed with our sense of scale by thrusting it so far into the foreground? Such questions typically have been answered with labels: for the last 40 years the words Samuel Bak and surrealism appear often in the same sentence. Even as Pakn Treger goes to press, a March 15 issue of Newsweek features an article by Cynthia Ozick about the authenticity of Holocaust-related art in which she lauds Baks astounding visionary surrealism. But Bak makes a distinction between surrealism and what he does, which is to use the devices of surrealism. Its not a very precise thing, and I dont mind if people call my work surrealist. Im using symbols and metaphors that represent a reality which is a little shifted. Painted in Words tells us, in fact, that the battered crockery and unyielding spoon are more literal than imagined. In the Vilna ghetto, the young Bak was taken to meet an important artist, someone Sutzkever thought could be the right tutor for him. But the artist had just been arrested, leaving behind in his room only his unfinished drawing in black and white, composed on two or more sheets of paper. The surface was held together by thumb-tacks. Only the perfectly immaculate white cup comfortably centered on its saucer and the erect handle of the spoon radiated something of a serene assurance, as if they were the ghostly signs of an impossible dream. With all my being I tried to absorb this mesmerizing image. That powerful image, which Bak first painted over 40 years ago and appears today in works like Where It Ends II (from the Return to Vilna series) is just one example of Baks slightly shifted realities. Most of Baks important images angels with broken wings; monolithic chess sets; clocks without hands; jerry-rigged mechanical birds; colossal keys; Hebrew letters and the Tablets of the Law; people who are part human, part prosthetic, part sculpture (echoes of the salvaged plaster casts of Professor Serafinovicz); the architectural stacks of books; strange and lovely pears are rooted in his lifes experiences. In his paintings they are brought to the level of icons, both real and symbolic. Art itself is a principal element in Baks work. Incarnations of the unfinished drawing by that vanished ghetto artist still inhabit his paintings. Countless trompe loeil canvases offer fully realized paintings within paintings, confounding our distinctions between the real and the visionary. Sometimes the paintings are finished but battered and eloquent, and sometimes they are as yet unpainted, invoking an absent or mute artist, or an artist from the future. What is the role of the artist: recorder of events, interpreter of events, manipulator of events? All of that, Bak says. When you do the kind of painting that I do, it must get away from that one meaning. Can this thing have two meanings, three meanings? Then it can be used. But if it is something that only means one thing, then I better keep it away. The self-referential canvases within his paintings also reflect his sense of humor, which leans toward the ironic. Irony is the most important tool in art; in literature, certainly; in story-telling, certainly. Where would Kafka be without irony? Irony is this possibility of taking a distance from things. And you need a distance to put the thing into a context. Bak likes also the challenge of taking a stereotype and transforming it into a mythology. What could be more banal than a woman who sleeps with another man? But when it becomes Anna Karenina, you dont say this story doesnt interest me. All this mythology is always on of the border of banality. Its kind of tricky. The proof that Bak is the master of such tricky territory is the paintings he bases on appropriations of familiar works like Michelangelos The Creation of Man. In Creation of War Time II (from the series In a Different Light), Bak boldly appropriates from both Michelangelo and the 20th-century surrealist Rene Magritte. He takes the charged gesture between the hand of God and the hand of man the one we recognize not only from the Sistine Chapel but from refrigerator magnets and silly birthday cards and uses it to question the power, nature, and very existence of God. Here, Bak represents God as the negative space in a blasted brick wall (an allusion to Magrittes transparent bird) but the reference to Michelangelo is unmistakable even in simple silhouette. Only Gods pointing hand occupies positive space, as a plaque secured to the brick wall by a nail. Adam mimics the Michelangelo pose, but he has an inmates shaved head and wears prison garb and an expression of exhaustion and futility. He reclines, inexplicably, on a purple cloth the perfect discordant note in the rubble of a collapsed house, unexploded bombs, and a blank canvas. No brave new world, this. When, in Adam with his own Image, Bak substitutes an upside-down canvas of Adams own hand for the figure of God, he surely begs the question: Is God merely an invention of needy man? Another series based on an appropriated image is Icon of Loss, in which Bak works with the notorious Nazi photograph known as the Warsaw Boy. Its a departure for Bak, and in it he takes an enormous risk. Though the Holocaust has long been his subject, his use of specific imagery has been discreet. Now, prompted by distress that a powerful iconic image has been reduced to a cliché, Bak openly adopts the Warsaw Boy a boy who might have been Bak himself in the same cap, same outgrown coat, same short pants or his murdered best friend Samek. In a challenging and inventive series of some 75 paintings, Bak restores the authenticity of the original image while reaching new levels of meaning. Like Michelangelos Adam or Dürers angel, Baks Warsaw Boy is instantly recognizable, whether he appears as a suggestive patched shape in a distressed brick wall, as vandalized statuary, as the side of a mountain, or as a flesh-and-blood child who confronts us with hands still bleeding from a crucifixion. Many times the boy takes the form of a flat scrap-wood construction, which like a macabre scarecrow or primitive effigy intensifies his vulnerability and dignity. When Bak masses these constructions to fill the entire picture plane, as in Collective I and II, they have the power of a demonstrating and accusatory mob. Bak says he sometimes feels he would like to paint one million of these Warsaw boys, for the number of children who were murdered; but the cumulative effect of these 75 paintings brings him closer than the actual number suggests. When asked about the sources of his prolific output, Bak blames his own curiosity. He typically begins to explore one idea, which invariably leads to another idea, because every painting is like a Russian Babushka. You open it and theres another Babushka inside. I have now in my studio about three or four different series. God, if he was intelligent (and Im not sure he is), created them in order to break the Law. Once you start to think about that, then Adam and Eve in paradise dont interest me what becomes interesting is that Adam and Eve survived the Holocaust. They have lost paradise and become Everyman, Everywoman. It becomes a subject which is very encompassing. So you cannot solve it with one painting or two paintings. I mean, I can paint Adam and Eve for the rest of my life! At a certain point you have to finish with them. Bak rises early every day and paints as if it was the last day. He exhibits at a marathon pace, commemorating his 75th year in 2008 with a show of the 75 Icon of Loss paintings at the Pucker Gallery, on Newbury Street in Boston. This spring, Figuring Figures, a show of Baks newest work which deals with the subject of displaced persons opens at Pucker. At any given time he may work on as many as 120 paintings at once. He acknowledges his huge production with an understated I keep very busy, but notes its only ten percent of what is in my head! While there is real urgency, even compulsion, in his need to paint, in his need to tell the stories that he does, he maintains theres nothing more joyous than the hours that I spend in the studio. Had I the possibility to paint 48 hours of every 24, I would do it. In this, you hear an echo of his young self. Woven through the deprivations and losses of Baks war years are accounts of rescues and acts of kindness that provide a telling detail: where most of us would remember rescuers for their gifts of food or a warm bed, Baks life-and-death comforts are paper and pencils. A sign painter in the labor camp recognized the boy genius and offered him cardboard and paper: How did you know I needed them? I saw the way you looked at them. Sister Maria, a nun who hid Bak and his mother in the months after their escape from the labor camp, is remembered by Bak as someone who supplied me with paper, colored pencils, and old and worn childrens books. I drew and drew and drew. Today Sam Baks studio is well stocked, serene, and orderly, with pleasant light bathing the clean white walls and the honey-colored wood floors. A nearly finished painting from the Adam and Eve series rests on the big easel in the center of the room, while a few others from the series, slightly less developed, wait propped against a nearby table. His paints are within easy reach on an industrial wheeled cart and brush-filled buckets line the top of a bookcase filled with CDs (Bak listens to audio books as he works). In a handy side room dozens of works-in-progress are stacked neatly according to size and shape, and elsewhere are pristine canvases ready to receive the paintings queuing up in his mind. Conspicuously absent, though, is the sprawl of open reference books, source photos, and rough sketches that clutter the studios of most figurative painters. The drawings that appear to be studies for finished paintings were actually composed after the fact, in what he calls the portrait of a painting that I painted a more concise version of the expanded idea. Bak does any sketching for a painting directly on the canvas, in the form of under-painting that is then covered over by the finished work. Also missing are props for still lifes, models, or careful arrangements of drapery all of which are staples of Baks compositions. They, too, are in his mind. These are somehow things that pass from your brain into your fingers. The idea is an abstract thing: it has the speed of thought, which is still faster than the speed of light, I think. He dedicates 99 percent of his time to the actual execution of the painting, a process that owes much to his photographic memory and extraordinary draftsmanship, but also to his sensitivity to the resonant rhythms and patterns of the world. Bak is a man who notices and absorbs things deeply and offers them back, transformed. Much of his works transformative power has to do with its sheer beauty. The worlds he paints for us are full of chaos and questions, but in the calculated decision to make this difficult artistic journey, he invites us along. Im fishing in my art. Im trying to aesthetically seduce people so that they will look into these things, because what Im going to tell them is maybe not very pleasant. But I want still to speak because Im very talkative! Bak pushes each painting he claims they all start as messes until every detail contributes to the visual harmony that ultimately defines beauty. But form always follows function: the fierce intelligence of his work never succumbs to mere cleverness, and its beauty can be terrible. The painting has its own needs and tells me what to do. I very often try to make a certain dissonance by using too harsh colors, maybe a very harsh blue, saying Look! So that this fairyland beauty is speaking of something very different. He no longer needs to prove that he can paint as meticulously as the Dutch masters, so some of his more recent surfaces have more vigor and texture and a little less polish. When Bak says, Every work of art is always a kind of testimony against the artist, he means that no painting of his is ever as good as he would like it to be. To this day, he feels he could a little improve it here, could improve it there and he doesnt have the same feeling of sureness that he had all those years ago as a child prodigy drawing in the blank pages of the Pinkas. The Pinkas has served as a kind of poignant punctuation in his life. After the tantalizing disappointment of 1967, the Pinkas resurfaced in 2000. Rimantas Stankevicius, a representative of the now-independent Lithuanian government, contacted Bak with the news that the Pinkas was being exhibited in the Jewish Museum in Vilnius in a huge glass box, like a sacred object, with enlargements of Baks drawings hanging on the surrounding walls. This was the beginning of a reconnection to his native city that led to a retrospective show in Vilna and his first hesitant visit to his birthplace in 2001. The visit unleashed what even the prolific Bak calls a frenzy of painting, the fruit of which was the 2007 Return to Vilna show at Pucker Gallery. These paintings more than 100 poured out like automatic writing, as if transmitted by a higher power. A cortege of new imagery appears. There are the forsaken pillows and teddy bears of childhood. There are stacked books like those behind which Bak and his mother hid. There are strewn books suggesting a scattered culture. There are trees bearing books instead of fruit. And there are herds of airborne and rootless trees, as though a horrified nature had uprooted the complicit Ponary forest. Finally, in what the writer Lawrence Langer refers to as Baks battle to convert inner pain into a serene visual homage, there are both somber memorials to each member of his lost family and the brighter tribute paintings he calls their mementos. Painting like a man possessed only that here you are possessed by your own self Bak produced a potent series that binds the long-ago child prodigy to the prodigious Samuel Bak of the present. EBAY4157 / folder 161. The item “SAMUEL BAK Jewish HAND SIGNED Art LITHOGRAPH Surrealist HEBREW Judaica HOLOCAUST” is in sale since Saturday, August 8, 2020. This item is in the category “Collectibles\Religion & Spirituality\Judaism\Images”. The seller is “judaica-bookstore” and is located in TEL AVIV. This item can be shipped worldwide.
- Country of Manufacture: Israel
- Handmade: Yes
- Country/Region of Manufacture: Israel
- Religion: Judaism