Gotko’s family was originally from Byelorussia. In 1905 they sought refuge in Paris. In 1913 his father, who worked as a metallurgist for FIAT, suddenly died and left his wife and his children destitute.
The young Gotko attended Marcel Gromaire’s classes at the Ecole de Beaux Arts and soon began exhibiting in the Paris Salons. The influence of his teacher was revealed in the geometrical aspect of his composition, with his mass of form and brilliant colours. He worked as a set designer for a cinema company to support his family. He also worked as a watercolorist, engraver and draughtsman.
In 1937 Gotko left Paris and settled in a small village in Charente-Maritime where he worked exclusively on his art. In June 1941 he was arrested and interned in the Soviet section of the Compiegne camp. In spite of the difficulties of camp life he continued to draw. In September 1942 he was transferred to Drancy where he continued painting portraits.
On 31 July 1943 he was deported to Birkenau on convoy n°57 where he died of typhus on 2 January 1944. His mother and sisters were arrested in Bordeaux and were interned in Drancy. They were deported to Auschwitz on 11 November 1942.
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