Landsberg DP camp, 1946
Gouache on paper
40.6 x 27.5 cm
Gift of the artist
Samuel Bak was born in Vilna. Following the German occupation in 1941, he hid with his mother in a Benedictine monastery. Two years later, when the Germans took over the building, they were forced into the Ghetto. His artistic talent was discovered, and when he was nine, an exhibition of his work was held in the Ghetto. In the summer of 1943, he was sent with his family to a labor camp, but his father managed to smuggle him out before being murdered himself. Bak and his mother returned to the monastery, where they hid until the end of the war. After many ordeals, they arrived at the displaced-persons camp in Landsberg, Germany. Despite all the hardships, his mother saw to his artistic education throughout this period. In 1948, he immigrated with his mother to Israel and studied at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design. He moved to Paris, then Rome and Switzerland and became a renowned artist. Today, he is a flourishing artist living in the United States.
Bak the youth, residing with his mother in a DP camp, finds empathy for the fate of orphan children left alone in an alienated world. The positioning of the boy and girl in the center, while behind them their footsteps in the snow and before them the distant mountains, alludes to the long way they have already travelled and to the many difficulties that still await them.