Holocaust survivor and painter Frederick Terna, named one of our “36 people to see” by Jewish Week in New York this year, died at the age of 99.
Terna was born in Vienna in 1923 and raised in Prague.
From 1941, he was imprisoned in four Nazi concentration camps, including Terezin, where he began creating art, and Auschwitz and Dachau.
After the war, Terna moved to Paris, where he “studied informally” at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière and the Académie Julien.
According to his website, “he was inspired by the work of the Cubists and Post-Impressionists.”
Terna moved to New York in 1952 and began imbuing his art with textural elements.
“Most of my work has to do with the Bible,” Terna told Jewish Week in New York in our “36 things to see” questionnaire, “including stained glass windows in a synagogue in Panama and our synagogue, Kane Street, Jewish Synagogue”.
In a 2019 New York Times review of “Places/Images/Objects,” a three-person exhibit at the Jack Barrett Gallery on the Lower East Side, Terna’s work – “a series of the ink drawings have a sense of ‘trees, boats and buildings’ – considered the ‘axis’ of the show.
“Although the style varied considerably, Mr. Terna’s enthusiasm for the combination was the visual details together are reinforced by the obvious pleasure he takes in capturing them,” the reviewer wrote.
The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., the Albertina Collection in Vienna, and Yad Vashem in Jerusalem are just a few museums and organizations that have acquired Terna’s work over the years.
Terna, who kept painting in Brooklyn into his late 90s, was also a speaker on the Holocaust in high schools and actively participated in Witness Theatre.
Terna is survived by his son, Daniel Terna, and his second wife, Rebecca Shiffman, whom he wed shortly after they were introduced in 1982 at a gathering of second-generation Holocaust survivors.
Sunday at 10 a.m. will be the time of his funeral. Live streaming of the event will be available on the Kane Street Synagogue’s website.