River War by Samuel Bak
About the Artist:
Samuel Bak was born in 1933 Poland.
Bak was recognized from an early age as possessing extraordinary artistic talent. As Vilna came under German occupation in 1941, Bak and his family had to move into the Vilna Ghetto. At the age of nine, he had his first exhibition inside the ghetto. Bak and his mother escaped the destruction of the Vilna Ghetto by seeking refuge in a Benedictine convent. They were helped by a Catholic Nun and spent most of their time there in an attic. By the end of the war, Samuel and his mother were the only members of his extensive family to survive. 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 Lodz. 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. He spent most of this period at the Landsberg am Lech DP camp 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, he and his mother were allowed to immigrate to Israel, and four years later he studied art at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem. Bak spent most of his time in Israel studying and living in a modest flat in Tel Aviv and did not paint very much during that period. After serving from 1953 to 1956 in the Israel Defense Forces, Samuel Bak lived from 1956 to 1959 in Paris, where he studied at the École des Beaux-Arts. In 1956, he received the first prize of the American-Israeli Cultural Foundation. He then lived in the following places: Rome: 1959-1966, Israel: 1966-1974, New York: 1974-1977, Israel: 1977-1980, France: 1980-1984, Switzerland: 1984-1993, Weston, Massachusetts: 1993-present