Macznik grew up in a humble orthodox family. After studying at the Fine Art Academy in Warsaw he married and in 1928 he moved to Paris with his wife, Stella. The couple first lived in a hotel and then moved to Douanier Rousseau’s former atelier in rue Perrel. He embraced Parisian life and came in contact with Hersch Fenster.
Jacob Macznik proposed that they travel to Poland with a view to publishing a book on Polish synagogues. Fenster was to write the texts and Macznik would depict the synagogues. Macznik began an inventory of the oldest synagogues in Poland (these would be later destroyed during the war). The two men travelled through Tarnow, Kourov and Barnev, organizing conferences in each city visited. They parted ways in Lodz.
Macznik had no money, returning to Paris with only ten canvases instead of the forty-or-so works originally envisaged. The album of synagogue paintings was prefaced by the M. A. Monzie, the Minister for State Education. Macznik was in a small village in the Auvergne region when the Second World War began, so he left for Toulouse to join the Resistance.
He intended to enter London via Spain; however on 1 October 1943 Macznik and his wife were interned in Drancy.
On 28 October 1943, they were deported on convoy n°61 and were assassinated in Mathausen on 18 January 1945.
The majority of his canvases were destroyed by the Nazis.
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