Early Years


Jacques Hnizdovsky spent his childhood in Ukraine, mostly at boarding school and then at Seminary. At the urging and with the support of Metropolitan Archbishop Andrey Sheptytsky, Hnizdovsky left Ukraine to study at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. His studies were abruptly cut short when Germany invaded Poland. Hnizdovsky fled Warsaw on foot and by stowing away in trains. He fled to Yugoslavia, where he completed his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb.

Jacques Hnizdovsky's parents (Jakiw and Martha) with his two older brothers Vasyl and Ostap (?) This photo was taken in 1905, ten years before Jacques Hnizdovsky was born.

Jacques Hnizdovsky at age 5 (1920), the year he starts drawing. His most treasured possession is his double ended, two-colored pencil.

Jacques Hnizdovsky at the Chortkiv Gymnasium (front row, left). During his years in Chortkiv, Hnizdovsky had a roommate that was involved in politics, something Hnizdovsky had no interest and no involvement in. During a school search by the Polish police, Hnizdovsky's roommate, fearing impending arrest, decided to frame Hnizdovsky by hiding all his political flyers under the the young artist's mattress. Hnizdovsky was arrested and imprisoned, while his roommate went free. The imprisonment, which we originally thought lasted for days, may have in fact lasted over a year, since we are missing almost two years of school records. When Hnizdovsky was imprisoned, the length of his trousers were at his ankles. By the time he was released, they were at his knees. Hnizdovsky was cleared of all charges, but the Chortkiv Academy refused to allow him to return. Metropolitan Sheptytsky saved the young artist bringing him to Seminary, so that Hnizdovsky could complete his high school studies.

Hnizdovsky and classmates in front of the Ivan Franko Memorial at the historic Lychakiv Cemetery in Lviv. Hnizdovsky's gaze is fixed towards the location of his own final resting place, which is directly opposite the tomb of Ivan Franko.