Those familiar with the artistic lexicon of Samuel Bak will recognize many of the symbols present in the series Figuring Out, but they will also meet and explore a new cast of characters. Human figures in many guises navigate a search for identity in the postwar world and invite the audience into a dialogue about the future of mankind. The human face appears in various states—from flesh to stone, in wooden profile, and as a gigantic monument slowly sinking into the earth, to name a few—but always in some way eroded, defaced, masked, blindfolded, bandaged, or distorted. Human figures inhabit a ravaged landscape but collaboratively and resolutely drag each other out of their wounded past in their determined journey toward an uncertain future. New to Bak’s drama of identity is the figure of the magician, a master of manipulation who drifts between the whimsical and the grim. With this latest body of work, Bak steadfastly proves the important role of the artist in understanding the human experience and confronting difficult episodes in our time.
Samuel Bak was born in 1933 in Vilna, Poland, at a crucial moment in modern history. Bak’s artistic talent was first recognized during an exhibition of his work in the Ghetto of Vilna when he was nine years old. In an artistic career of over seventy years, he has had numerous exhibitions in museums and galleries throughout Israel, Europe, and the United States and has been the subject of numerous articles, scholarly works, and books.
Lawrence L. Langer, a Holocaust scholar, is Alumnae Chair Professor of English emeritus and Simmons College and the author of many award-winning publications. He has collaborated with Samuel Bak on dozens of volumes of painting and commentary.
Andrew Meyers is an educator specializing in urban history, art history, and experiential learning. He has taught at Columbia University, Connecticut College, and Empire State College, and is the founding co-director of Living City Project in New York.
Distributed for Pucker Art Publications
8.5 x 11, 136 pages, 130 color illustrations