Fred Terna, creator of Fiery Holocaust Paintings, dies at 99

Although he had no formal training, Mr. Terna started drawing in Theresienstadt and joined a group of artists there who were looking for good paper and any raw material they could turn into ink. . He buried his sketches of daily life there in a tin box under the floor of the barracks.

Before being deported to Auschwitz in September 1944, Mr. Terna gave his drawings of daily events, such as people queuing for soup, to another prisoner, believing he would never see them again. He had only spent two months in Auschwitz when he was deported to Kaufering, a sub-camp of Dachau. After an unsuccessful escape attempt, he was liberated by American troops on April 27, 1945.

Sick and weighing only 70 pounds, he convalesced in a hospital, where he began to paint scenes from Auschwitz, as well as landscapes.

“A lot later, looking at my landscapes, I noticed there were walls and fences in a lot of them,” he said, as quoted by the Defiant Requiem Foundation, which honors prisoners. of Theresienstadt. “It taught me that the memory of the Holocaust was part of me, that it would not go away and that I had to live with it.”

Her father died in Auschwitz and her brother died in the Treblinka extermination camp.

After returning to Prague, Mr. Terna reunited with Stella Horner, his girlfriend. They married in 1946 and moved to Paris, where he studied art and worked as an accountant for the Joint Distribution Committee, a Jewish relief agency. They left for Canada in 1951 and later moved to Manhattan. (They would divorce in 1975.)

Mr. Terna was not part of the abstract expressionist movement that had taken hold after the war, but he adapted it to his artistic vision, especially in his use of sand and pebbles to create texture in his canvases. In addition to his Holocaust art, which he began in the 1980s, he painted circles as symbols of the continuity of life and figurative pieces depicting angels and biblical stories such as that of Abraham and of Isaac.


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