THE PANKOWSKY COLLECTION

Presented by the Goldrich Family Foundation
Paintings by Sofia Guttentag-Davidson

 

Sofia Guttentag-Davidson was born in Lodz, Poland, then a part of the Russian Empire, to an affluent Jewish family in 1893. From a young age she turned to art to express herself. Guttentag-Davidson studied art in Munich, Germany as one of the few female students in her university. Afterwards, Guttentag-Davidson returned to Poland shortly before the war broke out. In the winter of 1940, she escaped from German territory in Poland with her daughter to the Bialystok region in the Soviet-annexed part of Poland.

Once evacuated to the Ural Mountains deep in the Soviet interior, Guttentag-Davidson found that she was unable to pursue free expression through art. When she attempted to paint outdoors, she was promptly arrested and accused of spying by Soviet police. After hours of interrogation, she was told that she would never see the light of day again. Eventually she was released. Throughout the war this incident left her unable to develop her art.

After the war, the family returned to Poland but continued west to Germany. Finally, in 1947 Guttentag-Davidson emigrated to Mexico having attained a visa during her stay in a displaced person’s camp in Stuttgart, Germany. In Mexico, she was at last able to deal with her family’s past and escape an inner depression. Art provided the means for her to do so. Following her time in Mexico, she later moved to San Antonio, Texas.

Through her sketches and paintings, Guttentag-Davidson’s work brings her family’s history to life. Her artwork is a powerful representation of Jewish life before the war as well as the persecution of European Jewry. Her art includes her life and memories in Mexico as well.

Her prolific illustrations include over 100 paintings and etchings. Exhibited is a selection of artwork from her personal collection. This art tells a story of how the human spirit can endure even under the most difficult of circumstances.