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New Perceptions of Old Appearances in the Art of Samuel Bak

Lawrence L. Langer

Cloth $50.00    |    1-879985-14-4    |   2005

Showcases the distinctive work of one of the most innovative artists of our time.

"Samuel Bak's astounding imagination peels the veneer from the world of appearances to show the lineaments of truthdasha truth both unearthly and earthy, transcendent and objective, enameled yet piercing. In our time, the genius of Samuel Bak has no peer: his historical penetration is matched only by his metaphorical insight."
dash Cynthia Ozick

Samuel Bak's most recent series of paintings, New Perceptions of Old Appearances, is a tribute to the power of the metaphorical imagination. Using the pear as a substitute image for the familiar apple of Eden, Bak explores the struggle of modern civilization to wrest from our fragile universe a viable mode of communal existence. Bak's pears are stoic in their solidity, but vulnerable to decay. In some guises they shine with the beauty of succulent fruit, but in others they fall victim to the violence of history and the decay of time. In this bookdashfilled with color illustrationsdashLawrence L. Langer shows the versatility and uniqueness of Bak's art.

His pears play many roles, challenging the viewer to interpret their enigmatic presences without having to search for a single dogmatic meaning. While some, laden with promise, proclaim the inherent dignity of artistic form, others remind us, as they are consumed by fire or sacrificed on strange altars, of what Bak has called the "ineffaceable tragedy and sadness" that has been part of our lot as human creatures during the past hundred years. His images are both ripe with life and haunted by death.

Samuel Bak had his first exhibition at the age of nine in the Vilna Ghetto. After emigrating to Israel, he studied at the Bezalel Art School in Jerusalem. He has had numerous solo exhibitions at galleries and museums in the United States, Israel, and Europe. Books about his work include Landscapes of Jewish Experience: Paintings by Samuel Bak and The Book of Genesis in the Art of Samuel Bak.

Lawrence L. Langer is Alumnae Chair Professor of English Emeritus at Simmons College. His publications include The Holocaust and the Literary Imagination, Holocaust Testimonies: The Ruins of Memory, Art from the Ashes: A Holocaust Anthology, and Preempting the Holocaust.

8.75 x 11.25, 120 pages, 75 full-color plates
Distributed for Pucker Art Publications, Pucker Gallery, Boston

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