Boris Taslitzky

1911 (Paris) - 2005 (Paris)

Painter and Draughtsman

"The real adventure of my life was not Buchenwald, but painting."

Boris Taslitzky was born in Paris on 30 September 1911, the child of Russian immigrants. His father, a worker, was killed in 1915 in the First World War. Taslitzky grew up as the foster son of farmers. He returned to his mother at the age of ten and lived in Paris's artist milieu. He attended the Parisian Académie Moderne, which later became the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts. In 1934 he joined the Society of Revolutionary Writers and Artists, the later "Maison de la Culture", an artist's association to defend culture against war and fascism. He was a friend of the painter Jacques Lipchitz and worked for Ce Soir as a newspaper artist. In April 1935 Taslitzky joined the Communist Party of France and became involved in political work as an artist in the French People's Front, producing monumental and decorative placards for demonstrations. In 1940 he was a soldier in the war against the Germans, was arrested and escaped. 

On 13 November 1941 Taslitzky was arrested by French policemen and sentenced to two years imprisonment; he served in Riom, Mauzac and in the camp at St. Sulpice-la-Pointe. At the beginning of August 1944 he was deported to Buchenwald as a political inmate. Here he made hundreds of portrait sketches, movement studies and group pictures. His communist friends protected his illegal artistic activities and obtained paper and pencils for him. In April 1945 he took part in the armed liberation of the camp. His mother had been murdered in the Holocaust.

After returning to Paris, Taslitzky continued his work: large paintings and, repeatedly, portrait drawings, scenes from everyday life (Portraits of My Time) and landscapes. In 1946 he received the Prix Blumenthal for painting. He became a teacher at the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs and worked as an illustrator for the Communist press, receiving numerous awards.

Boris Taslitzky died in Paris on 9 December 2005.