Jacques Hnizdovsky was born in Ukraine to direct descendants of a noble family bearing the Korab coat of arms. The youngest of seven children, he was the only one in his family that was able to emigrate to the West. In 1938 he enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, but the German invasion of Poland forced him to flee Warsaw and complete his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb. Yet again, due to the war, after graduation from the Academy, he found himself in Wayern, Germany in a Displaced Persons Camp, where he would spend many years. In 1949, he was finally able to emigrate to the United States with the help of friends that sponsored him. He arrived with practically nothing. All had been lost during the bombardment and subsequent liberation of Europe.
Hnizdovsky was a prolific artist and created hundreds of paintings, numerous watercolors and pen and ink drawings, as well as over 375 prints after his arrival to the United States in 1949. Shortly after his arrival, A. Hyatt Mayor of the Metropolitan Museum of Art chose one of his woodcuts for a Purchase Award at the 1950 Minneapolis Institute of Art print exhibition. From that moment on, Jacques Hnizdovsky was determined to make his livelihood as a self-employed artist and moved to New York City. The 1950s were difficult years (the Years of Search), but the 1960s finally bought success and global recognition to the artist. In 1962, Hnizdovsky was awarded the First Prize at the Boston Printmakers annual exhibition for his print “The Sheep”. Hnizdovsky's work can be best described as stylized realism and draws inspiration from Dürer, Ukiyo-e and Chinese painting. Jacques Hnizdovsky was best known for his prints, but he created many more paintings than prints, painting during the day and carving his wood and linoleum blocks in the evenings. Weekends were reserved for printing.
Hnizdovsky was invited to participate in the Contemporary U.S. Graphic Arts exhibition which traveled to the U.S.S.R. in 1963, as well as a similar exhibition to Japan in 1967. His woodcuts were included in the Triennale Internazionale della Xilographica in Italy in 1972. In 1977 shows of his woodcuts were held at the Long Beach Art Museum, California, and Yale University, and in 1978 and 1982 at the University of Virginia and at the Hermitage Museum of Norfolk, Virginia, in 1981. He received a Tiffany Fellowship in 1961, and fellowships from the following: MacDowell Colony in 1963, 1971, 1976, 1977; Yaddo Foundation in 1978; Ossabaw Foundation in 1980; Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in 1979, 1981, 1982, 1983, and 1984.
In 1975 a catalogue raisonné of his woodcuts "Hnizdovsky Woodcuts 1944 - 1975" was published by Pelican Publishing Company of Gretna, Louisiana. In 1987 the updated version “Jacques Hnizdovsky Woodcuts and Etchings” was published, which included all woodcuts, linocuts and etchings created during his lifetime. Hnizdovsky has contributed illustrations to or designed covers for: The Poems of John Keats, 1964; The Poems of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1967; Tree Trails of Central Park, 1971; Flora Exotica, 1972; The Poems of Thomas Hardy, 1979; The Traveler’s Tree, 1980; The Poetry of Robert Frost, 1981; Signum Et Verbum, 1981; A Green Place, 1982; Birds and Beasts, 1990; Behind the King’s Kitchen, 1992; The Girl in Glass in 2002; and The Adventurous Gardener in 2005. (abridged list)
Among the numerous permanent collections with woodcuts by Hnizdovsky are: The Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA; Burnaby Art Gallery, British Columbia; Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH; Chrysler Museum at Norfolk, VA; Cleveland Museum of Fine Arts; Davison Art Center, Wesleyan University; Duke University Museum of Art, Durham, NC; Dulin Gallery of Art, Knoxville, TN; Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, Pittsburgh; Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle; Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, Laurel, MS; Louisiana Arts and Science Center, Baton Rouge; Louisiana State Museum, New Orleans; Minneapolis Institute of Arts; Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC; New Orleans Museum of Art; New York Public Library; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Tweed Museum of Art, University of Minnesota; The U.S. Information Agency, Washington, DC; Library of Congress and White House, Washington, DC; University of Delaware; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond; Winnipeg Art Gallery and Yale University. (abridged list)
Jacques Hnizdovsky died on November 8, 1985 in New York and is buried at the historic Lychakivskiy Cemetery in Lviv, Ukraine.