University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies


Art by Survivors and Refugees

Samuel Bak

Blue AngelA Survivor of the Vilna Ghetto and perhaps the best-known Holocaust survivor painter. Bak paints in the tradition of the great masters and has occasionally had his works described as possessing a "Rene Magritte-like surrealism," although he prefers not to use the surrealist description for what and how he paints. Bak has been recognized internationally. Bak has lived in Israel, Switzerland and now resides in the Boston area. His work has been displayed at major museums and  galleries in the United States, Europe, and South America. Many examples of his paintings may be seen at Pucker Gallery, Boston, MA.

Judith Goldstein

I amBorn in Lithuania and a survivor of the Vilna Ghetto, Goldstein lives in New Rochelle, New York and constructs collages and watercolors that attempt to work through some of the pain and trauma of her experience in the Ghetto and Stutthof Concentration Camp. She describes her work as seeing the world as when she was a child, with frightful images around her. Goldstein has taped her experiences for the Spielberg project as well as the Fortunoff Archive at Yale University. She is a member of the Marmaronek Artist Guild and has exhibited at many galleries in the United States.

Kitty Klaidman

Childhood RevisitedBorn in Sastin, Czechoslovakia and survived the Holocaust hidden by a Christian family. Educated at the City University of New York, her work since the early 1990s has focused more on the memories of her Holocaust experiences, stemming from a visit back to Sastin to meet the with family that helped rescue her own. She has exhibited extensively in the United States, England, Germany, Spain and France.

Netty Vanderpol

Kings HorsesBorn in Amsterdam and deported to Terezin, Vanderpol was a classmate of Anne Frank in 1940. She was a member of a deportation from Terezin exchanged for German prisoners of war in early, 1945, the only such exchange of the war. Her medium is needlepoint and her collected work is entitled "Every Stich a Memory," dedicated to her experiences and memories of the Holocaust. She had a major retrospective at the Institute for Contemporary Art in Boston, 1993.

Gabrielle Rossmer

In SearchRossmer came as a child to the United States from Bamberg, Germany. Educated at the Massachusetts College of Art and known as a sculptor, Rossmer began to become more involved with conceptual spaces in the late 1980s. Her works have been shown in many American museums, through the Goethe Institute in Germany, and in her native city of Bamberg, Germany.

Edith Altman

MemoryA Chicago-based installation artist whose family escaped from Germany during the late 1930s and settled in Chicago. Altman is known for her complex installation works which are based on the Kabbala, the works of Jewish mysticism. She is interested in the process of healing the world after the Nazi era and has exhibited extensively, including in Germany.

Gerda Meyer Bernstein

ShrinelBorn in northern Germany and rescued through the Kindertransport to England in 1939. She now lives and works in Chicago. Gerda Meyer Bernstein's powerful installations evoke strong emotions of the political issues in which she in engaged. For her, the Holocaust is the springboard for understanding other forms of oppression. Represented by the Fassbender Gallery in Chicago, she has exhibited extensively across the United States and in her native Germany.

Alice Lok Cahana

CahaA Holocaust survivor born in Budapest, Hungary who was an inmate in Auschwitz-Birkenau, Guben and Bergen-Belsen camps. She studied in Israel, Sweden, and later at universities in Texas, where she now lives. Known for her abstract works which have in recent years reflected more and more on her experiences in the Holocaust, Cahana has been exhibited extensively in the United States and Israel. She is the subject of a 1995 PBS Baltimore video, "Triumph of the Spirit," and was recognized by President Clinton at the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors in 1995. Her story has also been portrayed in the Steven Spielberg Film, "The Last Days," about the fate of the Jews of Hungary in 1944.