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 died prematurely in 1913. When he was young, Gotko enrolled in the Ecole de Beaux-Arts art school under Marcel Gromaire, following which he exhibited in the Parisian Salons. He paid attention to his master’s classes, from which he kept 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 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 department where he devoted himself to painting. In June 1941, he was arrested and interned in Compiegne 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 July 31, 1943, he was deported to Birkenau on convoy number 57, and died of typhus on January 2, 1944. His mother and sister were arrested in Bordeaux, interned in Drancy, and deported to Auschwitz on November 11, 1942.
Nieszawer & Princ
"Artistes juifs de l’Ecole de Paris 1905-1939"
Editons Somogy 2015