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Yad Vashem The Story of the Jewish Community of Plonsk

Ilka Gedő

  • Self-Portrait in the Ghetto, Ghetto Budapest, 1944
  • Young Girl Leaning on her Elbow, Ghetto Budapest, 1944
  • Girl in a Floral Dress Resting, Ghetto Budapest, 1944
  • Girl with Head on Pillow, Ghetto Budapest, 1944
  • Boy Wearing Glasses, Ghetto Budapest, 1944
  • Girl with Bow, Ghetto Budapest, 1944
  • Young Woman Sitting in an Armchair, Ghetto Budapest, 1944
  • Boy Sitting, Ghetto Budapest, 1944
  • Boy Sitting at Table, Ghetto Budapest, 1944
  • Portrait of a Boy, Ghetto Budapest, 1944

Born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1921. Died in Budapest, Hungary, in 1985.

Gedő came from a family of intellectuals, and was surrounded by a circle of artists and writers. She studied art with private teachers; Tibor Gallé and Viktor Erdei. In 1940, her works were first displayed in an exhibition sponsored by the Hungarian Jewish Cultural Association [OMIKE]. Between 1942-1943, she studied art at István Örkényi-Strasser's private school. Following the German occupation of Hungary in June 1944, Gedő was interned in Yellow-Star houses and, in November 1944, she was deported to the ghetto. When she was summoned for transport eastward, one of the elderly in the community reported in her place. Thus she managed to evade the transports, and found refuge in the ghetto. With the liberation of Budapest on January 18, 1945 by the Red Army, Gedő came out of hiding, and began to study at the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts. After six months, she was compelled to leave the academy, and studied in the evenings with the Hungarian Bauhaus artist Gyula Pap. In 1946, she married Endre Bíró, a biochemist. The couple had two sons. After a long hiatus from art, in 1968 Gedő resumed painting. In 1969, she went to Paris, where she lived for a year. Her works were displayed in many exhibitions in Paris and Budapest.

While living in the Yellow-Star house and in the ghetto, under extremely difficult conditions when water, food and medications were scarce, Gedő created numerous drawings of her surroundings, her friends, the elderly and the children. Her drawings, which document people wrested from their surroundings, reveal Gedő's sensitive and intimate rendering of the subjects, and convey their despair and weariness.

Yad Vashem holds more than 100 of Ilka Gedő's portraits in its collection.