President’s Blog / Process + Practice Samuel Bak

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. 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. Bak’s studies continued as he immigrated to Israel, and he later received a grant to pursue his studies in Paris.

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 after 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.

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.

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.

An exhibition of Bak’s work, Samuel Bak and the Art of Remembrance, will be on display in the Montserrat Gallery until March 4. The exhibition is presented in cooperation with Pucker Gallery, Boston and supported in part by Barbara & Jim Schaye, Mercedes Sherrod Evans & David L. Evans, and the Robert I. Chappin Charitable Foundation.