The Bak Collection, now housed in Gallery 4463's Annex Exhibit Area, includes over 2000 works by both Bronislaw and Hedi Bak. Since Bronislaw Bak's passing in 1981 it has been the goal of many of his former colleagues and friends of the family to preserve and call attention to the accomplishments of this prolific and visionary artist as well as his equally talented wife, Hedi. In 2007 with its founding, the artists of Gallery 4463 have become part of this effort.
Bronislaw and Hedi Bak were not native Georgia artists, but they lived and worked in Georgia. Bronislaw was a Professor in the Art Department at Georgia Southern from 1973 to 1981 where he taught two and three dimensional design. Hedi Bak taught Art History at Savannah State College. Following her husbands death, she moved to the Atlanta area and after some time abroad came back. She spent her last years in Georgia and was a founding member of Gallery 4463.
While many of their works were sold to private collectors and museums, the collection include a broad and representative overview of their work. Over the next few months we will be adding many works to the on-line gallery, along with pricing for selected prints that are available. Works can be seen at Gallery 4463 by appointment.
He was a favorite to many students at Georgia Southern during his years in Statesboro (1973-1981). An engaging professor, he was as much a philosopher as an artist. He approached teaching as he approached his work - in pursuit of truth. As an artist his explorations took many paths, testing ideas and applying his design theories in both the realm of abstract and figurative art. Bronislaw Bak was a thinking man's artist whose considerable legacy continues to engage people long after his passing.
He was born in 1922 in Leszno, a small town in Poland, where his mother was the librarian. At the age of 17 he became a cadet in the Polish army, on the eve of World War II. He fought against the German invasion of Poland in 1939 and was captured and forced into slave labor in German fields and factories until 1943. Escaping to Poland, he was recaptured by the SS, beaten and thrown into the Shirmeck concentration campin Vichy France where he remained until he was freed by American troops in 1945. The Shirmeck concentration camp was a "reeducation camp" for resisters from occupied lands throughout Europe, a number of whom ended up in the Nazweiler_Struthof death camp 10 kilometers away.
After the war he studied art in Mannheim, where he met his wife, Hedi. Hedi and Bronislaw were part of the first generation of art students in Germany after the war. Up until the Nazi took power in 1933, Europe was the cultural center of the world and art flourished in Germany. Artists were banned, driven in exile and many killed during the Hitler era. The small community of artists, teachers and students who came together amid the rubble of post-war Germany were inspired and grounded in the methods and ideas of an earlier epoch. Bronislaw and Hedi brought this lifelong passion for the pursuit of art to their adopted homeland in 1952. Bronislaw left a 30 year legacy of architectural commissions, paintings, sculpture and fine prints. Some of his works can be seen in the Bak collection page in Gallery 4463's on-line Registry.
Known for her strength and dry wit, Hedi Bak endured many challenges in her life. As an artist, her career spanned 60 years and three continents. She was born in Pirmasens Germany in 1927, the daughter of a political activist who later spent a year in Dachau in the early 1930's. Growing up in during the rise of Fascism and World War II profoundly influenced her committement to art. She wrote and published a book about her early life titled Mazel. In 1949, she married fellow art student Bronislaw Bak and soon started a family. A career artist, she juggled her time between teaching, family life and her art.
In the 1960's She managed Studio 22, and produced a volume of prints; both her own and in collaboration with Bronislaw. Later, when Bronislaw's health gave out, the couple moved to Europe where she was employed, doing preservation work at the Gutenburg Museum in Mainz, Germany. In 1972 they returned to America and established studios in Statesboro, Georgia. Hedi continued to teach until 1980. In 1982 the year after her husband died, Hedi suffered a serious stroke while undergoing surgury. Told that she would never walk again, she struggled to regain her life. The next year her youngest son, Pieter died in a car crash.
In 1990, Hedi married another very talented artist, Charles Counts, a renowned potter, painter and poet from Tennessee. Charles had been teaching and living in Nigeria for many years. He took his wife back to Maiduguri in Northern Nigeria where he encouraged her to take up writing as well as her art, resulting in two delightful books, many stories and prints from her time in Africa. She spent many of her happiest years of her life with Charles, until he died unexpectedly in 2000.
She returned to Oak Ridge, her late husband's hometown and lived there until her move to the Atlanta area. In 2009, Gallery 4463 hosted a retrospecive exhibit for Hedi, shortly before her death in 2010. Some of her works can be seen in the Bak collection page in Gallery 4463'son-line Registry.