Biography: artist David Labkovski

Steven Guzman


David Labkovski was a famous painter born in Niebel, Russia, in 1906. Labkovski was a survivor of the Siberian Prison Camp, known as a “gulag,” during the Holocaust. Students in Brent Abelson’s Period 5 World History class have been studying his art and will curate an exhibit of his work on June 1 in the MPR at 6:30 p.m.

Labkovski’s brother was accused of cooperating in anti-Stalin activities and was sent to 10 years in the Siberian prison but was murdered. Any relatives of prisoners were immediately suspected of doing similar activities, therefore David was sent to the prison. He survived by becoming the prison artist in in exchange for food scraps. In 1946, Labkovski returned to his hometown of Vilna, Lithuania, where he discovered the town was deserted due to the mass killing of the community by the Nazis.

Labkovski immigrated to Israel in 1958 where he expressed his memories of his childhood and surviving the gulags through art. Labkovski’s work consists of memories before his imprisonment, while he was imprisoned and post-Holocaust. He wanted the world to remember the people that were killed. Labkovski died in Israel in 1999 due to natural causes.