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YEHUDA BACON / RETURNS

A retrospective exhibition of an important Israeli artist with roots in Czechoslovakia. Open September 9 -30, 2011. FREE ENTRY!

Jiri (Yehuda) Bacon was born on July 28, 1929 in Moravska Ostrava. Despite belonging to the German-speaking upper middle class, the family maintained its Jewish religious traditions and did not assimilate. After 1939 the situation of the Jewish population of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia steadily worsened: Jews became subject to many restrictions and prohibitions in accordance with the Nazi racial laws. His entire family was deported to Theresienstadt in September 1942.

Like most children in the Theresienstadt ghetto, Yehuda was separated from his parents and housed with boys of his own age; in Children’s Home 1 (Kinderheim), block L417. There, he met a number of very talented children and his drawings caught the attention of several of the well-known artists in the ghetto, such as Karel Fleischmann (1897-1944), Bedrich Fritta (1906-1944), Leo Hass (1901-1983), Petr Kien (1919-1944) and Otto Ungar (1901-1945).  Fleischmann and Ungar gave Yehuda private lessons in Theresienstadt.

The Bakons were selected for deportation to Auschwitz–Birkenau in 1943. A few days after his arrival in Yehuda’s left arm was tattooed with the number 168194. The number would eventually appear in many of his art works as a kind of memento mori, and he often placed it alongside his name as a signature.  After the war, Yehuda was placed in the rehabilitation home in the Stirin castle that was established by Premysl Piter(1895-1976), an extraordinarily devoted social worker and humanist.

In March 1946, Yehuda left Stirin for Palestine. He was accepted to the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem in September 1946 where he studied under the supervision of the avant-garde painters Mordechai Ardon (1896 - 1992), Isidor Aschheim (1891 - 1968) and Jakob Steinhardt (1887 – 1968). At that time he also met important Czech-German cultural and social figures, such as the writers Max Brod (1884 - 1968) and Felix Welsch (1884 – 1964) and intellectuals Samuel Hugo Bergman (1883 -1975), Martin Buber (1878 - 1965) and Gershom Scholem (1897 – 1982).

  

 

 

 

For more pictures, please visit our gallery HERE.

Another important milestone in Bacon’s life was the trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem in 1961, as he was asked to appear as a key witness. Apart from his oral testimony, he was able to produce precise documentary drawings, which were used as evidence.  During 1963-64, he was called on once again to testify in the so-called “Auschwitz Trial” of Nazi criminals that took place in Frankfurt am Main.

In 1968 Yehuda met his wife, Leah Rothberg, who was teaching American literature at the Hebrew University. They married in 1970 and had two sons: Benjamin (1971) and Hannan (1972). During that period, Yehuda studied at the Pratt Institute of Graphic Arts in New York City.  His painting flourished, undergoing dramatic development during his stay in America. After Bacon returned to Israel in 1972, he began exhibiting his work throughout Germany.  During this period, he received repeated invitations to contribute to various efforts to foster German-Jewish and Christian-Jewish dialogue.

In February 1995, Bacon returned to his native land for the first time since leaving in 1946. There, he met with survivors from the group of the 89 boys who were with him in Auschwitz and other camps beforehand and afterwards. They gathered in Prague and went from there to Theresienstadt and then to Birkenau. 

For his eightieth birthday in 2009, Yehuda’s friends and admirers in Germany organized an exhibition of his work at the Museum am Dom in Wurzburg, Germany. There, the Yehuda Bacon Foundation was established at the Kunstsammlung der Diozese Wurzburg.

Yehuda Bacon works in major collections worldwide (selective selection): Israel Museum (Jerusalem, Israel), Yad Vashem Museum (Jerusalem, Israel), Ein Harod Museum (Israel), Museum of Modern Art (Haifa, Israel), British Museum (London, United Kingdom), Victoria and Albert Museum (London, United Kingdom), Magnes Museum (Berkeley, USA), Library of Congress (Washington, USA), Museum am Dom (Würzburg, Germany)

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Exhibition concept: Lena Arava Novotná
Curator: Anna Pravdová
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The exhibition has been prepared in cooperation with the Embassy of Israel in Prague, Mr. Jens Oertel, and Czech Centre Tel Aviv. We would like to thank Czech-German Fund for the Future, European Shoah Legacy Institute, U Zeleného hroznu hotel and winery České vinařství Chrámce for their support.


MORE INFORMATION 

Radka Labendz
Czech Centre Prague
T: 777 055 040
E: labendz@czech.cz
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 Yehuda Bacon: www.yehudabacon.net