1929 - 2010
born Victor Długacz (he later changed his name to Arikha), to a Jewish family in south Bucovina, Rădăuți in Romania, 1929. He began painting when he was a young child. In October 1941, then 12-year-old, Arikha was deported with his parents and sister to Transnistria Governorate (which served as a concentration camp for the extermination of the Jewish population of the eastern part of the country). A year later, his father died after being severely beaten by Romanian gendarmerie soldiers. During these years, Arikha created drawings documenting daily life in the camp.
After his family tried to escape but was caught in the city of Mohyliv-Podilskyi, Arikha was taken and put to forced labor in a foundry. In December 1943, at the age of 14, he was saved by the Rescue Committee of the Jewish Agency, which operated in the guise of "The Center for the Jews in Romania". In 1944 he immigrated with his sister to then Palestine, under a false identity. Arikha settled in Kibbutz Ma'aleh Hahamisha, lived and worked there for about five years. In 1946 he was accepted to the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem and became a student of Mordecai Ardon and Isidor Ascheim.
During the Israeli War of Independence, Arikha was drafted to the Haganah and was badly injured in a clash with Arab forces while escorting convoys to then besieged Jerusalem. In 1949 the artist moved to Paris and through financial aid of a scholarship enrolled in the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts. In Paris, Arikha became friends with Alberto Giacometti and the playwright Samuel Beckett, who became his close friend and mentor. Among Arikha's works can be found a drawing of Beckett's portrait. Between 1951 and 1953, he lived in Jerusalem. In 1954 he emigrated to France and in 1961 married the American poet and writer Anne Atik, the couple had two daughters.
In the early 1970s, Arikha began a secondary career as a historian and art critic. He became world renowned in this field and in the art world due to his superior taste, extraordinary knowledge, the many articles he published on the history of art, and the exhibitions he curated in museums such as the Louvre, The Israel Museum, The Frick collection in New York and The Houston Museum of Fine Arts. Arikha died in Paris on 29 April, 2010, of complications from his cancer disease. He had turned 81 the day before.