Samuel Bak was born 1933 in Vilna, which is now Vilnius, Lithuania, Bak was recognized from an early age as possessing extraordinary artistic talent.
He describes his family as “secular, but proud of their Jewish identity.”
After the war he enrolled in the Blochere School, Munich.
In 1948 he immigrated to Israel where he continued his studies at the Bezalel Art School.
In 1956 he went to Paris where he continued his studies at l’Ecole des Beaux Arts.
In 1959 he moved to Rome. In 1966 he resettled in Israel with periods in New York City, Paris and Switzerland.
In 1993 Bak moved to Massachusetts, USA where he lives till today.
Bak explains: “Shortly after the occupation of Vilna by the Wehrmacht, both of my grandfathers were taken to the Ponari forest and there they shot, together with other Jews. On the following Yom Kippur holiday, both of my grandmothers were also taken to this forest. My father was shot by the Nazis a few days before the liberation of Vilna. I don’t know how, of all people, my mother and I were selected by fate to survive the liquidation of the ghettos and the labor camps and the various hiding places in which we kept ourselves concealed during the German occupation. I feel the necessity to remember and take it upon myself to bear witness to the things that happened in those times, so that human beings today and those of tomorrow, if it were only possible, are spared a similar destiny on earth. So I have chosen the way of creating images of a seeming reality, imbuing them with a multitude of layers, from clear and unknown symbols to the most private and intimate feelings of a world that has its own apparent logic. I hope that the complexity of these paintings might go beyond my private story and beyond the vicissitudes that mark the Jewish people and their fate”.