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 Alice Lok Cahana  (1929 - )

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Lived/Active: Texas / Hungary      Known for: collage, abstraction

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Ad Code: 4
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A Holocaust survivor, she began making art about the horrors of the Nazi death camps where she was brought at age fifteen, and twenty-four of her paintings collaging together elements of that experience became part of a touring exhibition. In 1996, film director Steven Speilberg discovered her work in this exhibition in Houston and included her in his Academy Award winning documentary, "The Last Days," about five Hungarian Holocaust survivors.

Cahana was born in Budapest, Hungary and grew up in the town of Sarvar near the Austrian border where her parents owned a textile factory. Her grandfather was prominent in the Jewish community, and when the Nazis entered the area, her father escaped to Budapest but the rest of the family was taken to Auschwitz where most of her family perished. She and her sister were sent to a munitions factory, but two days after liberation, she lost track of her and never saw her again.

She recuperated in a hospital in Sweden, and she was reunited with her father. She moved to Israel in 1948 and married Moshe Cahana, a rabbi with whom she emigrated to the United States in 1957. They settled in Houston in 1959, and she took art classes at the University of Houston and Rice University.
Her early work was influenced by Morris Louis, whose paintings she saw in the Houston Museum.

In 1978, she returned to Sarvar and saw no remnants of the Jewish people who had previously lived there. Returning home, she abandoned color abstractions for the realism of concentration camp images. The public did not embrace the unhappiness of these pieces, but her husband encouraged her as did several local art figures in Houston. Today she is a well-known artist in her region, and she has added Biblical imagery to her subjects.

She works from her studio in Houston, Texas and often begins her work with a photograph or some other reminder of historical significance and then creates a narrative painting around it.

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