Jacques Gotko (Yankelli Gotkovski aka)

1899 1944
(Ukraine) 1899 /   (Pologne) 1944

Jacques Gotko’s family originally came from Belarus and took refuge in Paris in 1905. Gotko’s father worked as a steelworker for Fiat. His wife and children were left destitute when he prematurely died in 1913. When he was young, Gotko enrolled in the Beaux-Arts (Fine Arts) under Marcel Gromaire, following which he exhibited in the Parisian salons (exhibitions). He paid attention to his master’s classes and remembered the geometric aspect of the composition, the massive appearance of the shapes and the brilliance of the colors. He worked as a set designer for a film-making company in order to provide for his family. He also painted with watercolors, and worked as an engraver and a draftsman.

In 1937, Jacques Gotko left Paris and settled in a small village in the Charente-Maritime region where he devoted himself to painting. In June 1941, he was arrested and interned in Compiègne in the “Soviet” section of the camp. Despite the difficult life in the camp, he continued to paint. In September 1942, he was transferred to Drancy where he drew portraits. On 31 July 1943, he was deported to Birkenau on convoy number 57, and died of typhus on 2 January 1944. His mother and sister were arrested in Bordeaux, interned in Drancy, and deported to Auschwitz on 11 November 1942.