Jacques Hnizdovsky, a renowned painter and printmaker, was born in Ukraine in 1915. He studied art in Warsaw and Zagreb but abandoned his work for several years after dealing with the dificulties of postwar Europe both in his artwork and his life. Hnizdovsky moved to the United States in 1949 and soon after, the Metropolitan Museum chose one of his woodcuts for a Purchase Award at the 1950 Minneapolis Institute of Art print exhibition. That, along with a second prize win for his oil painting “Eggs” at the Minnesota State Fair a few weeks later, brought about a turning point in his career and his life. From that moment, Hnizdovsky was determined to make his livelihood as an artist. Between 1950 and his death in 1985, Hnizdovsky produced more than 375 prints, primarily woodcuts and linocuts, as well as several fine etchings.
To create his woodcuts, Hnizdovsky used original drawings as his guide to begin a series of drawings on parchment tracing paper. With special attention paid to detail, each successive drawing was refined and modified until the desired style was achieved. Once Hnizdovsky was satisfied with the drawing, the drawing was transferred to the woodblock by tracing the master image onto carbon paper which was taped to the woodblock. The resulting carbon lines were then retraced with india ink or a felt tip pen for permanence and the wood was cut using a sharp pointed flat blade and various V and U shaped gouges. Depending on the size and complexity of the work, this process may have taken months to complete.
While Hnizdovsky’s works have been exhibited around the world, permanent collections of Hnizdovsky’s work can be found at the National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC; The New York Public Library; The Library of Congress and the White House, Washington, DC; The Burnaby Art Gallery, British Columbia; The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Winnipeg Art Gallery; Yale University; and countless others. His works have also been included in several publications–some of which can be found at Moye Library.
University of Mount Olive first obtained a collection of 41 pieces of Hnizdovsky’s art back in 1971 from alumnus Dr. E. Lee Glover, who first loaned it to the College and later gifted it for permanent exhibition in Moye Library. In addition, the Hnizdovsky family later contributed 18 to 20 prints, and according to Gary Barefoot, curator of the FWB Historical Collection at University of Mount Olive, “the college purchased five or six other prints.” In 2007, Melvin Reuber, M.D. gave the college 26 pieces of art from his personal Jacques Hnizdovsky collection making University of Mount Olive one of the largest holders of the artist’s works in the world.
To read more about the Jacques Hnizdovsky and see more examples of his works, please visit www.hnizdovsky.com.