Paris, ca. 1928–1960s
Galerie Zak was based in Paris and specialized in modern European and Latin American art. Owned by Hedvige Zak (born Jadwiga Kohn or Kon, Nasielsk, Poland, February 6, 1885–Auschwitz, 1943), the gallery was an important venue for contemporary art exhibitions. Hedvige was married to Eugène Zak (born Eugeniusz Zak), a prominent Polish painter of Belarusian and Jewish origins who was active in France, Germany, and Poland. Eugène’s flourishing art and teaching career was cut short by his premature death in 1926. Two years later, Hedvige established Galerie Zak on the Left Bank at 16, rue de l’Abbaye, Place Saint-Germain-des-Prés.
In February 1929, Galerie Zak organized Vasily Kandinsky’s first solo exhibition in Paris. That same year, the gallery showed works by the American artist Louis Lozowick, and the accompanying catalogue featured a short text by the prominent critic Valdemar George. The gallery handled works by Marc Chagall, Amedeo Modigliani, Jules Pascin, Georges Rouault, Zak, and among the Cubists, Juan Gris (including Houses in Paris, Place Ravignan, 1911, possibly 1912; Promised Gift from the Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Trust) and Picasso.
In 1930 Picasso brought a suit against Zak for her involvement in selling hundreds of artworks dating from his youth, which he claimed had been extorted from his mother in Barcelona. The charges against Zak were dismissed in 1932.
During World War II, Zak’s gallery was seized by the occupying Nazi government in February–March 1941 and its contents sold. In addition, twenty artworks Zak had deposited in a bank in Nice, presumably early in the war, were confiscated by the Gestapo in 1944. Zak was deported to Drancy and from there to Auschwitz in November 1943 (registered with the name Hedwig Zack), where she was killed. Zak’s associate, Vladimir Raykis, reopened the gallery at 16, rue de l'Abbaye in 1945, and as the executor of Zak’s estate he pursued restitution of her confiscated property. Raykis then moved to 13, rue de l’Abbaye, the premises of the former Galerie Kate Perls, in the spring of 1946 (in agreement with the latter’s sons, Klaus and Frank Perls). Galerie Zak closed in the late 1960s.
For more information, see
Brus-Malinowska, Barbara. Eugeniusz Zak 1884–1926. Exh. cat. Warsaw: Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie, 2004.
Madeline, Laurence. “Picasso and the Calvet Affair of 1930,” Burlington Magazine 147, no. 1226 (May 2005): 316-323.
Richardson, John. A Life of Picasso, vol. 3. New York: Random House, 2007, pp. 403-410, and notes, pp. 548-550.
Archival material for the gallery is preserved at the Archives of American Art, Washington, DC: Frank Perls Gallery records, c. 1920-1983, Box 44, Folder 13 (correspondence with Jadia Zak, 1939), and Box 33, Folders 32-48 (correspondence with Vladimir Raykis, 1939-66), click here for more information; Perls Galleries records, 1937-1997, Box 33, Folders 32-48, click here for more information. Documents related to the 1941 seizure of inventory are part of the Records of the Commissariat Général aux Questions Juives (CGQJ), United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington DC (click here for more information), and the database of Art Objects at the Jeu de Paume, see information on Collection Hedwige/Hedwig Zach/Zak — Nice/Paris, France here.