Samuel Bak was born on August 12, 1933 in Vilna, Poland at a crucial moment in modern history. From 1940 to 1944, Vilna was under first Soviet, then German occupation. Bak's artistic talent was first recognized during an exhibition of his work in the Ghetto of Vilna when he was nine. While both he and his mother survived, his father and four grandparents all perished at the hands of the Nazis. At the end of World War II, he and his mother fled to the Landsberg Displaced Persons Camp. Here, he was enrolled in painting lessons at the Blocherer School, Munich. In 1948 they immigrated to the newly established state of Israel. He studied at the Bezalel Art School in Jerusalem and completed his mandatory service in the Israeli army. In 1956 he went to Paris where he continued his studies at the École des Beaux Arts. He received a grant from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation to pursue his studies.
In 1959, he moved to Rome where his first exhibition of abstract paintings met with considerable success. In 1961, he was invited to exhibit at the "Carnegie International" in Pittsburgh. And, in 1963 two one-man exhibitions were held at the Jerusalem and Tel Aviv Museums. It was subsequent to these exhibitions, during the years 1963-1964, that a major change in his art occurred. There was a distinct shift from abstract forms to a metaphysical figurative means of expression. Ultimately, this transformation crystallized into his present pictorial language.
In 1966 he returned to Israel. He lived in New York City (1974-1977), Paris (1980-1984), Switzerland (1984-1993), and in 1993 moved to Weston, Massachusetts.
Since 1959, Samuel Bak has had solo exhibitions at private galleries in New York, Boston, London, Paris, Berlin, Munich, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Zurich, Rome and other cities around the world. Numerous large retrospective exhibitions have been held in major museums, universities, and public institutions around the Globe. Included among them are: the Bezalel Museum, Jerusalem; the Tel Aviv Museum; the Bronfman Center, Montreal; the Heidelberg Museum; the Germanisches National Museum, Nuremberg; the Kunstmuseum, Dusseldorf; the University of Haifa; the Temple Judea Museum, Philadelphia; the Dürer Museum, Nuremberg; the Jüdisches Museum, Stadt Frankfurt am Main; Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion, New York; the Spertus Museum, Chicago; the Mizel Museum of Judaica, Denver; the Wilshire Boulevard Temple, Los Angeles; The National Catholic Center For Holocaust Education, Seton Hall College, Greensburg, PA; the Holocaust Museum Houston; B’Nai B’Rith Klutznick National Jewish Museum, Washington, DC; Phillips Exeter Academy Exeter, NH; the Panorama Museum, Bad Frankenhausen; the Snite Museum of Art, Notre Dame University, Notre Dame; the Florida Holocaust Museum, Saint Petersburg; the National Museum of Lithuania, Vilnius; the University of Scranton, PA; the Neues Stadtmuseum, Landsberg am Lech; the Canton Museum of Art, OH; Clark University, Worcester, MA; the 92nd Street Y, New York; the Jewish Cultural Center and Memphis College of Art, TN; the City Hall Gallery, Orlando; Texas Tech University, Lubbock; the Tweed Museum of Art, University of Minnesota, Duluth.
Publications on Samuel Bak’s work include twelve books, most notably a 400 page Monograph entitled Between Worlds, and his touching memoir, Painted in Words. He has also been the subject of two documentary films.
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