Hnizdovsky, Jaques

Hyacinth
Woodcut, edition of 100
11 x 5.5 in
Tulips, 1972
Linocut, edition of 120 Trial proof Signed, titled and dated lower center
19.25 x 10 in
Plate 139 in Tahir’s book
Telephone Booths, 1972
Woodcut and watercolor
9 x 12 in
Bread, 1973
Oil on canvas
20 x 24 in
Jacques Hnizdovsky is one of America’s most renowned painters and woodcut artists. Born in Western Ukraine, an area with a long standing tradition and history of graphic art, Hnizdovsky went on to study at the art academies in Warsaw and Zagreb. In 1949, Hnizdovsky moved to the United States. That same year, A. Hyatt Mayor, the Associate Curator of Prints of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, chose the artist’s woodcut, Bush, for the Purchase Award at the 1950 Minneapolis Institute of Art print exhibition. This became a turning point in the artist’s life at which time he decided to devote himself completely to art.

Hnizdovsky’s work draws inspiration from the European realists, in particular Dürer, and is influenced by Ukrainian, Chinese, and Japanese woodcuts. He successfully fused these influences into his own style, bringing him international fame. Hnizdovsky was not lured by the avant-garde nor was he at ease with social commentary. Instead, the artist focused on the essential line and form, a style he named “simplified realism.” Hnizdovsky consistently surprises us with his close observation and ability to perceive the imminent and natural. Whether a landscape or a constructed still life, Hnizdovsky’s canvases express a natural geometric composition that elevates our sense of awareness.

A master printmaker, by the end of the 1950s Hnizdovsky settled into woodcut as his primary medium. He produced more than 375 prints between 1950 and his death in 1985. Hnizdovsky’s body of work is comprised primarily by woodcuts and linocuts, but included several fine etchings. His prints reflect strong geometric graphic patterns whether applied to a landscape or a sheep (one of his favorite subjects). The artist possessed a unique talent for reconstructing natural elements into geometric forms and compositions. Hnizdovsky’s subject matter encompasses a relatively limited spectrum. He focuses on still lifes and the natural world, particularly animals, birds, plants, and trees.

Hnizdovsky died in 1985 in New York. The artist held many solo exhibitions throughout his career, and his works can be found in numerous permanent collections.

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