Jacques Hnizdovsky was born in 1915 in Filipchye, a Galician village now in the Ternopil region of Ukraine. He was a direct descendant of the Ukrainian noble family Korab and studied at the Chortkov gymnasium. In 1933, he moved to Lviv to study at the Lviv Theological Seminary.

In Lviv, Jacques lived in a dormitory with students linked to the Ukrainian national underground. In spring 1934, a Polish police raid found propaganda pamphlets, leading to Jacques’s arrest on suspicion of involvement. He spent several days in prison and testified in court that he had no connection to his neighbors’ political activities. His courtroom sketches impressed those present, revealing his sole interest in art, and all charges were dropped.

In 1938, Jacques moved to Warsaw to study at the Warsaw Academy of Arts. With the onset of World War II in 1939, he relocated to Zagreb, studying at the Zagreb Academy of Art. By 1944, he was in a displaced persons camp near Munich until 1949.

In 1949, Jacques moved to the United States, settling in St. Paul, Minnesota, and working as a designer for Brown & Bigelow. In 1950, he moved to New York, living near the Botanical Gardens and the zoo in the Bronx. From 1956 to 1958, he refined his skills in Paris, marrying Stephanie Kuzan on February 16, 1957.

Jacques Hnizdovsky died on November 8, 1985, in New York and was initially buried in the Cathedral of John the Theologian’s columbarium. On November 5, 2005, his ashes were reburied at the Lychakiv Cemetery in Lviv, Ukraine.



Jacques Hnizdovsky showed an inclination for drawing while still studying at the gymnasium, creating small sketches of people, landscapes, and pets. In Lviv, Hnizdovsky became actively involved in the city’s artistic life, joining the youth wing of the Association of Independent Ukrainian Artists. Caricaturist Edward Kozak attracted him to illustrate the Lviv newspaper Novoe Vremya and the magazine Komar. The talent of the young graphic artist was appreciated by the patron of the arts, Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytsky, who granted Hnizdovsky a scholarship to continue his art education at the Warsaw Academy of Arts, where he studied painting and graphics.

While studying at the Zagreb Academy of Art, Hnizdovsky also concentrated mainly on painting. At the same time, he turned his attention to woodcuts. His first woodcuts, created in 1944, are sketches of figures. Jacques Hnizdovsky drew inspiration from the engravings of Albrecht Dürer. One of his most original early prints, The Bush, created in 1944, contains elements that would become precursors to his more mature works. Focusing on the isolated form of nature, filling space with a tangled tangle of leafless branches are ideas that would become central to his style.

During his time in the displaced persons camp near Munich, Hnizdovsky managed to produce only two woodcuts. Despite this, he was actively involved in graphic arts, serving as the responsible art editor of the Ukrainian literary and art monthly Arka, as well as illustrating the Ukrainian diaspora publication The Fringe. In addition, the artist worked on posters, textbooks, advertising, and was fond of ex libris. Hnizdovsky painted the painting “Displaced Persons” during his 5-year stay in Munich, where he was in a camp for forced migrants. During this time, the artist actively worked in the association “Mystetskyi Ukrainskii Ruch”, illustrating books and magazines. In 1949 Jacques left Germany and travelled to the USA, where he soon became a designer for the famous advertising company Brown & Bigelow.

American Period

The artist received his debut recognition in the United States in 1950 at a graphics exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. He was awarded second prize for his woodcut “Bush.” A second award was given to Hnizdovsky a few weeks later at the Minnesota State Fair of Commerce for his painting “Eggs.” This recognition prompted him to consider moving to New York City to pursue art exclusively.

In the United States, Hnizdovsky became inspired by Japanese woodblock prints. He often depicted plants and animals in his woodworks. The main reason for this was that the artist lacked the necessary funds to pay for sitters after moving to New York. However, what was initially a forced substitute later became his main and favorite subject. The artist was well known in all the botanical gardens of New York, where he found voluntary free “models.” Many such “models,” agreeing to pose, as the artist wrote, “for peanuts,” were found in the Bronx Zoo. One of Hnizdovsky ‘s favorite “models” was Andy the orangutan, who lived in the “House of Monkeys” at the Bronx Zoo. When Andy passed away, the Bronx Zoo immediately purchased a woodcut of him.

Another favorite “model” of the artist was a sheep from the Bronx Zoo, which posed for one of Hnizdovsky ‘s most famous prints, “Sheep.” This print was featured on the poster for Hnizdovsky ‘s highly successful exhibition at the Lumley Cazale Gallery in London. Working with nature, Hnizdovsky gradually came to a stylised realism that sets him apart from other contemporary masters. The graphic “Sheep” is probably his most famous creation. A poster with this sheep can be seen in one of the scenes of the Hollywood drama The Hours.

Hnizdovsky carved predominantly on cherry, pear, beech, or apple wood. Most of the artist’s woodcuts were printed on washi. In 1954, his first solo exhibition in the USA took place. The final recognition of Hnizdovsky ‘s skills in the United States came when the Association of American Artists gallery in New York bought 220 prints of his series of woodcuts “Pines.”

During his two incomplete years of residence in Paris, Jacques Hnizdovsky had three successful exhibitions. There he also exhibited oil paintings, ceramics, and small-scale sculpture for the first time. After 1960, Hnizdovsky ‘s artistic prestige grew, and he gained international recognition. His works were widely exhibited in Africa and the Middle East, Great Britain and West Germany, Czechoslovakia and Japan.

Jacques Hnizdovsky was a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Exlibrists of Great Britain and a member of the American Society of Bookplate Amateurs and Creators. He was a regular correspondent of the journal of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Ukrainian Artists of America (Ukr. Об’єднання Українських Митців Америки; OMUA) “Notes from Art.” He is the author of several articles on artistic subjects. His “Observations and Rumblings on Art,” “The Awakened Princess,” and other essays in Ukrainian were published in 1967 in New York as a separate book.

The Legacy of Jacques Hnizdovsky

Jacques Hnizdovsky painted in oil colors and tempera, using various hard colors, and engraved on wooden and metal boards. He occasionally created small-scale sculptures. His legacy includes hundreds of paintings and over 300 prints (woodcuts, etchings, and linocuts). Jacques Hnizdovsky gradually adjusted to the fact that the most influential people in America wanted to buy his graphics due to their artistic value. His “Sunflower” and “Winter Landscape” were purchased by Jacqueline Kennedy and presented to her husband, the President. These engravings adorned Kennedy’s Oval Office throughout his presidency. The artist’s works are also in the private collections of Nelson Rockefeller, the Woodward Foundation, the Library of Congress, and the Boston and Philadelphia museums. In the autumn of 1975, the son of Japanese Emperor Hirohito visited Hnizdovsky ‘s solo exhibition in Tokyo, and all the works were purchased by the prominent local gallery, Yoseido. After a long search, he finally found his niche and settled on wood as his primary medium.

The artist’s works are held in private collections and museums, including the Library of Congress, Boston Museum, Philadelphia Museum, University of Delaware, University of Washington, Butler Institute, Woodward Foundation, and the Nelson Rockefeller Collection (USA), as well as in museums in Japan. Some of Hnizdovsky ‘s works are in the holdings of the private design studio “Helen Woskob” at State College (Pennsylvania) and have been presented at exhibitions organized by this institution.

In 1990, the artist’s widow, Stefania Hnizdovska, donated several of Hnizdovsky ‘s works to museums in Kiev, Lviv, and Ternopil. Later, the artist’s works were also donated to museums in Ivano-Frankivsk and Chernivtsi. Several originals of his graphic works are kept in the Borschevsk Museum of Local Lore. In 2005, S. Hnizdovska donated a bust of Jacques Hnizdovsky by Leo Mol to the Lviv National Museum.

Hnizdovsky ‘s works are exhibited and published in books as illustrations. His archives are located in the Slavic and Baltic sections of the New York Public Library. Notable works include “Child’s Prayer” and “Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.”

Stamp Creation

Jacques Hnizdovsky is the creator of the Plast Post stamps issued by the Wolf Trail Plast Camp in New York City. The first series of four stamps designed by Hnizdovsky was released on 29 May 1954 by the New York County Spring Festival Plast Team to celebrate the Spring Festival. The artist depicted the Plast insignia and St. George, the patron saint of Plast. The stamps were offset printed at Small Photo-Offset Reproduction in New York City, and cartomaximums were produced simultaneously. The stamps were engraved with a special mark made according to a drawing by Jacques Hnizdovsky. On 28 August 1961, a block of four jubilee stamps was issued to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Plast organization. These designs were also prepared by Jacques Hnizdovsky and featured portraits of Plast founder Aleksander Tisovski, former head of Plast Seweryn Lewicki, the golden jubilee badge of Plast, and the first Plast postage stamp of 1926.


In 1990, the Union of Ukrainian Philatelists and Numismatists prepared a private philatelic souvenir for the “UKRAINPEX” exhibition—an envelope with a special stamp dedicated to the artist. On 5 November 2005, the National Museum in Lviv opened a retrospective exhibition of works by Jacques Hnizdovsky from the collections of museums in Lviv, Kiev, and Ternopil. This exhibition was dedicated to the reburial of the artist’s ashes in Lviv, the 90th anniversary of his birth, and the 20th anniversary of his death. Streets in Lviv (formerly Lewandowska Street until 1993) and Borshchiv are named after the artist.

Interesting Facts

There is a photo of Jacques Hnizdovsky taken after his graduation from seminary at the tomb of Ivan Franko in Lviv. It shows the artist sitting and looking at the very spot in the Lychakiv cemetery where his grave is located today.

Malabart Gallery

Malabart Gallery is one of the many prestigious galleries featuring the work of the brilliant artist Jacques Hnizdovsky. One of his notable pieces, “Composition” (1953), is an oil painting on canvas measuring 102 x 25 cm.

“Composition” (1953) by Jacques Hnizdovsky showcases his distinct style characterized by intricate patterns and bold use of color. The vertical composition is divided into sections, each featuring geometric shapes and repeating motifs, which draw the viewer’s eye upward. The vibrant orange, red, and blue colors contrast with the green, creating a dynamic visual effect. Hnizdovsky’s mastery of form and line is evident in the meticulous details and the harmonious balance of the overall design. The painting exemplifies Hnizdovsky’s ability to blend traditional influences with modernist abstraction, making it a standout piece in the Malabart Gallery collection.


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