Jacques Hnizdovsky was born on January 27, 1915 in the village of Pylypcze in near Borshchiv, Ukraine. His family’s noble lineage goes back many centuries. The family crest was the Korab Coat of Arms. Their social status was to lead to the confiscation of all their properties by Soviets and to Siberian exile for almost the entire family. The youngest of seven children, Jacques was the only one in his family who was lucky to escape this fate (he was away at boarding school at the time of the sad event) and to emigrate to the West.

In 1938 he enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, but the German invasion of Poland forced him to flee Warsaw and finish his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb.  After graduation, he spent several years at a displaced persons camp in Wayern, Germany. In 1949, he was finally able to emigrate to the United States, settling in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Hnizdovsky was a prolific artist and created hundreds of paintings, numerous watercolors and pen and ink drawings, as well as over 375 prints after his arrival to the United States in 1949. Shortly after his arrival, A. Hyatt Mayor of the Metropolitan Museum of Art chose one of his woodcuts for a Purchase Award at the 1950 Minneapolis Institute of Art print exhibition. From that moment on, Jacques Hnizdovsky was determined to make his livelihood as a self-employed artist and moved to New York City.

The 1950s were difficult years (the Years of Search), but the 1960s finally bought success and global recognition to the artist. In 1962, Hnizdovsky was awarded the First Prize at the Boston Printmakers annual exhibition for his print “The Sheep”. Hnizdovsky's work can be best described as stylized realism and draws inspiration from Dürer, Ukiyo-e and Chinese painting. Jacques Hnizdovsky was best known for his prints, but he created many more paintings than prints, painting during the day and carving his wood and linoleum blocks in the evenings. Weekends were reserved for printing.

Hnizdovsky's woodcuts frequently depict plants and animals, and the primary reason for this, in the beginning, after his arrival in the United States, was the lack of funds to pay for a human model. He frequently drew animals at the Bronx Zoo.  

Hnizdovsky was invited to participate in the Contemporary U.S. Graphic Arts exhibition which traveled to the U.S.S.R. in 1963, as well as a similar exhibition to Japan in 1967. His woodcuts were included in the Triennale Internazionale della Xilographica in Italy in 1972. In 1977 shows of his woodcuts were held at the Long Beach Art Museum, California, and Yale University, and in 1978 and 1982 at the University of Virginia and at the Hermitage Museum of Norfolk, Virginia, in 1981. He received a Tiffany Fellowship in 1961, and fellowships from the following: MacDowell Colony in 1963, 1971, 1976, 1977; Yaddo Foundation in 1978; Ossabaw Foundation in 1980; Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in 1979, 1981, 1982, 1983, and 1984.

In 1975 a catalogue raisonné of his woodcuts "Hnizdovsky Woodcuts 1944 - 1975" was published by Pelican Publishing Company of Gretna, Louisiana. In 1987 the updated version Jacques Hnizdovsky Woodcuts and Etchings was published, which included all woodcuts, linocuts and etchings created during his lifetime. Hnizdovsky has contributed illustrations to or designed covers for: The Poems of John Keats, 1964; The Poems of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1967; Tree Trails of Central Park, 1971; Flora Exotica, 1972; The Poems of Thomas Hardy, 1979; The Traveler’s Tree, 1980; The Poetry of Robert Frost, 1981; Signum Et Verbum, 1981; A Green Place, 1982; Birds and Beasts, 1990;  Behind the King’s Kitchen, 1992; The Girl in Glass in 2002; and The Adventurous Gardener in 2005 etc.

Hnizdovsky has exhibited widely and his works are in the permanent collections of many museums worldwide. The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston has a large collection of his prints.

Jacques Hnizdovsky died in 1985.

Jacques Hnizdovsky

January 27, 1915
Pylypcze, Ukraine
November 8, 1985
New York, USA

Painter, printmaker, sculptor, illustrator,
lettering designer

Work

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