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Yad Vashem Traveling Exhibitions

An Arduous Road

Samuel Bak - 60 Years of Creativity

Selected Panels from the Exhibition

Portrait with a Star, 1973Self-portrait, 1945The Family, 1974Star of David, 1976Under the Trees, 2001

Star of David, 1976Star of David, 1976
Oil on canvas

It is no accident that four works painted in New York in 1967-77 were named “Ghetto” while one, though dealing with the same subject, was named “Star of David”. The isolated ghetto was cast out of human space and just like its residents was marked with a badge of shame, the badge of ostracism, the yellow Jewish Badge shaped like a Star of David. “Seen from above, a colossal stone cube in the form of a city displays in its center a huge hole shaped like the Star of David,” the artist describes his first work in the series. The city largely endured, the bell towers of Christian neighborhoods reach upward in defiance of the ghetto’s crumbling, expiring houses. The urban landscape is bathed in golden light, redolent of the yellow Jewish Badge. In the other paintings, the artist seems to have taken hold of a lens and zoomed in on an aperture. Revealed is a quasi-cemetery and open tomb, the stone cover having been rolled away to expose the deserted ghetto. Ghetto residents, as is known, were shot to death on the edge of a killing-pit in Ponary, receiving neither headstone nor grave; the buried, ruined city bears silent witness to what had once been “Jerusalem of Lithuania”.