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Kalman Aron with his self-portrait at exhibit opening, Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, September 2015

[ THE LOS ANGELES MUSEUM OF THE HOLOCAUST ] : We report with sadness that artist and Holocaust survivor Kalman Aron passed away on February 24, 2018, at the age of 93. A gifted and accomplished artist whose work was exhibited at Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust in 2015, Kalman continued to paint daily until shortly before his death. 

Kalman Aron’s Mother and Child, which hangs at Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust

Born in Riga, Latvia in 1924, Kalman Aron began drawing as a young child and had his first gallery show at age seven. By age 13, Kalman was commissioned to paint the official portrait of the Latvian president and began attending Riga’s Academy of Fine Arts.

Kalman’s life was turned upside down in 1941, when the Germans invaded Latvia, killing his parents. He was moved to the Riga ghetto and later imprisoned in seven different labor and concentration camps, including Buchenwald and Theresienstadt. Kalman was able to get extra scraps of food in exchange for drawing portraits of concentration camp guards.

Kalman Aron’s Mother and Child, which hangs at Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust

After the war, Kalman drew portraits in a displaced persons camp, earning a full scholarship to the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna where he received his Masters in Fine Arts. He immigrated to America, settling in Los Angeles in 1949. Kalman began his career in Los Angeles painting pastels of children, and later became known for his portraits, vibrant landscapes and intriguing studies of people in his unique style, “psychological realism.”

Throughout his long career, Kalman was commissioned to paint hundreds of portraits, including Ronald Reagan, Henry Miller and Andre Previn, and his art has been widely exhibited, including at Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Kalman’s art was on temporary exhibit at Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust in 2015. His iconic Mother and Child is part of our permanent collection and hangs in the atrium of the Museum.

His memoir, Into the Light: The Healing Art of Kalman Aron by Susan Beilby Magee, is available for purchase at the Museum book store.

Kalman is survived by his wife, Miriam, and his son, David. May his memory be for a blessing.


Kalman Aron’s work on exhibit at Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust September 2015


Originally printed in the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust newsletter.