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Vilna Gaon Museum of Jewish History
Vilniaus Gaono Žydų Istorijos Muziejus


The Art of Samuel Bak in Vilnius: a Retrospective 1942-2023

At the end of June, the guests of the Vilna Gaon Museum of Jewish History became witnesses, participants and first viewers of the largest exhibition of the year, "The Art of Samuel Bak in Vilnius: a Retrospective 1942-2023", taking place at the Samuel Bak Museum. During the event, it was revealed that the Vilnius-born, Boston-based artist will present around 50 more of his works to Lithuania.
Currently over 100 artworks, created by Samuel Bak, are displayed for viewing at the Samuel Bak Museum. Collection in total counts up to 250 works, and with the newest donation on it’s way Vilna Gaon Museum of Jewish History will have one of the largest collections of the artist in the world.
The exhibition celebrates the 90th anniversary of S. Bak in 2023, which coincides directly and symbolically with the 700th anniversary of Vilnius.
In May, Bak, who is celebrating his 90th birthday, donated more than 50 works to be displayed at the Museum of his name in Vilnius. The newest donation covers the period of more than 75 years, from 1947 to 2023. The retrospective exhibition counts more than 80 years of creation, including the sketches, made on the precious Pinkas, a manuscript of the Jewish Community, in Vilna Ghetto, in 1942-1943.
The author of the exhibition, the 15th Honorary Citizen of Vilnius, Samuel Bak, said that the retrospective reveals his passion for creating art, which has lasted more than 80 years.
"Imagine how moved I am by today’s event. It represents over 80 years of my ongoing passion for producing Art. And it isn’t over. Art can mean so many things. Art means freedom. It means spirit. Art means connectedness, communication between individuals. Art aspires for balance, it means fairness, it means Humanism. At a time when a criminal war rages near your border, all the above may sound naïve. But more than ever, man needs HOPE. Humans must believe in their ability of doing good", said Mr Bak.
The integral part of the exhibition – the finds from the Great Synagogue of Vilnius, unearthed during 10 years of archaeological excavations at the site of the temple (performed between 2011 and 2021, during the „Vilna Great Synagogue and Shulhoyf Research Project“ directed by Dr. Jon Seligman, Justinas Račas, Zenonas Baubonis and the late Prof. Richard Freund), featured for the first time. Tiles, remains of capitals, shards of clogs, keys - they seem to have come from the two-dimensional works of S. Bak, reminding us of the artist's childhood world, which has been irretrievably lost.
Curator of the exhibition: Ieva Šadzevičienė, idea&design: creative group JUDVI&AŠ (Viktorija Sideraitė Alon, Albinas Šimanauskas); implementation: UAB Ekspobalta (Saulius Valius).
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