Hnizdovsky, Jacques

Hnizdovsky, Jacques [Гніздовський, Яків; Hnizdovs’kyj, Jakiv], b 27 January 1915 in Pylypche, Borshchiv county, Galicia, d 8 November 1985 in New York. Painter, graphic artist, and book designer. Having studied at the academies of art in Warsaw and Zagreb, he settled in the United States in 1949. In his paintings and prints he reduced objects to their primeval structure of lines and forms, and called this style ‘simplified realism.’ Among his oil paintings are multifigural compositions such as The Homeless (1947), also known as Displaced Persons, portraits, landscapes, numerous still lifes, and entire series on the Paris metro, New York skyscrapers, and the Bronx brownstones. The same precision and devotion to detail is displayed in his woodcuts, which number close to 250. They include some extremely intricate works, eg, Field (1962), Sunflower (1965), and Two Rams (1969). Starting with a style close to Dürer’s, he absorbed elements of old Ukrainian baroque engravings, Chinese and Japanese woodcuts, and various modern tendencies, and molded them into a personal style that brought him international recognition. Hnizdovsky illustrated many books, including Slovo o polku Ihorevi (The Tale of Ihor's Campaign, 1950), Marie Bloch’s Ukrainian Folk Tales (1964), Poems of Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1967), and the album Flora Exotica (1972). He also designed several hundred book covers (among them the Encyclopedia of Ukraine) and a large number of bookplates.

Hnizdovsky began to display his work at Ukrainian exhibitions in Germany immediately after the Second World War. One-man exhibitions of his work have been held at leading galleries in New York, New Orleans, Paris, and London. Travelling exhibits of his works were organized in the United States in 1967 and in Canada in 1973. His woodcuts have been included in group exhibits of the Society of American Graphic Artists and a number of exhibits in Europe, Asia, South America, and Africa sponsored by the US Information Agency. His works are included in the permanent collections of art museums (Boston, Cleveland, Philadelphia), museums, galleries (Winnipeg, Addison), universities (Duke, Delaware), and libraries (New York Public Library, Library of Congress), and in numerous private collections.

Iakiv Hnizdovs’kyi (New York 1967)
Terem, no. 5 (1975)
Hnizdovsky: Woodcuts, 1944–1975, ed A. M. Tahir (Gretna, LA 1976)
Hnizdovsky: Years of Search 1950–1960 (Chicago 1978)

Sviatoslav Hordynsky

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 2 (1988).]

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