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Samuel Bak
Mid Century Roman Landscape - Vista Sull Altra Riva

1959

$2,738
$3,65024% Off

About

Beautiful abstracted mid century Rome landscape titled "Vista Sull Altra Riva" (On the other bank) by artist Samuel Bak (Polish, b. 1933), 1959. Painted while he was in Rome. Signed and dated lower right corner "BAK" and en verso "BAK - Vista Sull Altra Riva". Galleria Schneider, Roma stamp en verso. Presented in rustic wood frame with linen mat. Image size: 23.50"H x 29"W. Framed size: 28"H x 33"W. An early piece painted upon his arrival in Rome in 1959. Samuel Bak was born on August 12, 1933 in Vilna, Poland. A few years later the area was incorporated into the independent republic of Lithuania. He was eight when the Germans invaded in 1941 and established a ghetto for the Jewish population. At first he and his parents hid in a local monastery; when the Germans grew suspicious, they escaped to the ghetto. Bak began painting while still a child, and had his first exhibition in the Vilna ghetto in 1942 at the age of nine. From the ghetto the family was sent to a labor camp on the outskirts of the city. His mother escaped and took refuge with a distant relative who had converted to Christianity and was living undetected in Vilna. Then Bak's father managed to save his son by dropping him in a sack out of a ground floor window of the warehouse where he was working; he was met by a maid and brought to the house where his mother was hiding. His father was shot by the Germans in July 1944, a few days before Soviet troops liberated the city. His four grandparents had earlier been executed at the killing site in the Vilna suburb called Ponary. After the war, the young Bak continued painting at the Displaced Persons camp in Landsberg, Germany (1945-1948) and also studied painting in Munich. In 1948, he and his mother emigrated to Israel, where he studied for a year at the Bezalel Art School in Jerusalem. After fulfilling his military service, he spent three years (1956-59) at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He then moved to Rome (1959-66), returned to Israel (1966-74), and lived for a time (1974-77) in New York City. There followed further years in Israel and Paris, then a long stay (1984-93) in Switzerland. Since 1993 Bak has lived and worked outside Boston, in Weston, Massachusetts. In 2001 he published a detailed autobiography, Painted in Words: A Memoir (Indiana University Press). Samuel Bak's paintings have been exhibited in museums and galleries and hang in public collections in England, the United States, Israel, Germany and Switzerland. Between Worlds: The Paintings and Drawings of Samuel Bak from 1946 to 2001 (Boston: Pucker Art Publications, 2002), a survey of more than a half-century of his work, summarizes the sources of his vision as follows: Bak's life has inevitably influenced his choice of images and themes. The particulars of Vilna and the Holocaust, of surviving and being a wandering Jew, are part of his individual biography; but all are also aspects of our shared human condition. Bak has always sought to find the universal in the specific. His ongoing dialogues with the long-dead members of his family, with his early teachers, with the great masters of all epochs, with contemporary culture, and with the Bible and the diverse host of Jewish traditions—all come from his desire to represent the universality of loss and the endurance of man's hope for a tikkun.

Details

  • Creator
    Samuel Bak (1933)
  • Creation Year
    1959
  • Dimensions
    Height: 28 in. (71.12 cm)Width: 33 in. (83.82 cm)Depth: 1.5 in. (3.81 cm)
  • Medium
  • Movement & Style
  • Period
  • Condition
    One minor tear repaired to linen, professionally in-painted (invisible).
  • Gallery Location
    Soquel, CA
  • Reference Number
    Seller: JT-D55211stDibs: LU5424378772

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    Ships From: Soquel, CA
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    A return for this item may be initiated within 14 days of delivery.

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About the Artist

Samuel Bak

The Polish-born painter Samuel Bak is well-known for his Surrealist paintings, which frequently derive from his own experience. In Vilna, Bak and his family experienced the Holocaust, but he and his mother survived, thanks to the help of a nun named Maria Mikulska, who hid them in a convent. It was during this time that Bak discovered his talent for painting. At the age of nine, living in the Jewish Ghetto, Bak had his first exhibition. Maria Mikulska encouraged his talent while in hiding, supplying him with paint and paper. After the war, Bak left for Munich to study painting and became familiar with German Expressionism and Constructivism. In 1948, Bak and his mother immigrated to Israel and Bak studied at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem. He moved to Paris in 1956, studying at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, where he discovered post-neoclassical Cubism, and in 1959, he moved to Rome and held his first exhibition of abstract paintings. Bak later wrote that in Paris and Rome “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.” A product of his varied training, Bak’s work combines elements of Realism, Surrealism and Cubism, as well as reflecting his admiration for the Old Masters, such as Albrecht Dürer and Michelangelo. However, from these he carved out his own style, choosing to go against the current and create narrative paintings drawn from his experience of the war. Bak’s use of seemingly incoherent symbols and his play with reality and illusion has earned the artist comparisons to the Surrealist painter René Magritte. Like Magritte, Bak’s proportions are deliberately exaggerated and he often displays ordinary objects in unusual settings, giving the objects a new meaning. The unlikely combination of fruit, household objects and collections of three-dimensional shapes that occupy the foreground, set against vast natural landscapes form characteristically Surrealist, dreamlike compositions. The artist’s personal experience colours the imagery of his paintings, often employing symbols, and artistic devices such as substitution to make his art more palatable to the viewer. He claimed; “my use of symbols, icons and metaphors managed to keep the underlying horror of my world at bay.” Rather than directly painting scenes of death, he depicted crematorium chimneys. Similarly, he painted teddy bears as a testament to the victim children. These recurring symbols are often set against a background of crumbling monuments and buildings, which remind the viewer of a world in disarray. By using the same set of symbols and images, Bak creates his own pictorial language. Over the course of his career, Bak’s work has featured in numerous exhibitions and collections throughout Europe, Israel and the United States, where he now resides. In 1961, Bak was invited to exhibit at the “Carnegie International” in Pittsburgh. In 1963 he was honoured with retrospectives at the Yad Vashem Museum in Jerusalem and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. The following year, he exhibited at the Venice Biennale. Other exhibitions of Bak’s work include the 1975 exhibition at the Jewish Museum of New York and an exhibition at the Barbican Centre in London in 1990. In 2002, he received the German Herkomer Cultural Prize and today, a collection of his works is on permanent display at the Pucker Gallery in Boston. (Biography provided by Stern Pissarro Gallery)
About the Seller
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Located in Soquel, CA
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