Viktoras Petravičius

(1906 - 1989)


Viktoras Petravičius was born in 1906 in Bedaliai, Šakiai district. He is a graduate of the School of Fine Arts in Kaunas, Lithuania, 1935; also L'Ecole Nationals des Arts et Metier and L'Ecole Nationals Superieurdes Beaux Arts, Paris, 19 38. In 1937 he received the Grand Prix and the Diplom membre du jury of the International Art Exhibition in Paris. He studied at the Kaunas Applied Arts Institute, Lithuania, 1940-1941; at the Vilnius Fine Arts Academy, Lithuania, 1941-1944.
He exhibited his work in Paris, France, 1937; Goetting, Germany, 1946; Amsterdam, Holland, 1949; Paris, France, 1949; Rome, Italy, 1949; the 55th Annual Exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago, 1951, and received a prize for woodcut; the Rochester Memorial Art Gallery, 1953; Wilistead Gallery, Windsor, Canada, 1956; University of Colorado, Buolder, 1957; University of Illinois, Urbana, 1958; Riverside Museum, New York, 1958; Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, 1958; International Institute, Milwaukee, 1958; 10th Annual Exhibit Sarasota Art Association at t he John and Ringling Museum of Art, 1960; Ravena, Italy, 1961; Gallery International, Cleveland, Ohio, 1966 (One-man show); "69" Art Gallery, Chicago, 1966 (One-man show).
He died in 1989 in Union Pier, Michigan, USA.


Viktoras Petravičius was the central figure of Lithuanian graphic art of the 20th century. Isolated and born rebel, Viktoras Petravičius was radiating his influence over his contemporaries and the whole generation of young artists in Lithuania and abroad. His influence was particularly acute in the post-war Soviet Lithuanian print makers.
Ever since he started, in the late twenties, he had two major obsessions: nature and love. It's not coincidental that both his main oeuvre as a young artist, were an "illustration" of a folk tale called "Marti iš jaujos" (1938), and, the latest monumental graphics (mostly monoprints) were erotic. Eroticism, at least in the early period, was deeply rooted in nature — man and woman in a very expressionistic characterization becoming one with trees, animals, the sky and the earth.
Using the illustration technique of books of Rouault and Bracque, Petravičius created rather than illustrated his books and albums, completely deviated from any direct literary connotation. He neglected the literary text of a fairy tale by integrating parts of it between the drawing with complete disregard for spelling and marks of punctuation.
Even though he studied in Paris, lived in Germany and the United States, his art has the charm of naiveté and primitivism.
His work, since 1938, has evolved and changed many times. Later on he began using a different medium, his prints became large, and one of a kind. His early prints, reminiscent of African carving, such as the album printed in post war Germany, have given way to even greater emphasis to the naked innocence of the figure and elimination of the decorative elements.
While in Germany, Viktoras  Petravičius drew in the best expressionistic style, the tragedies of war, its aftermath, including the naked reality of hunger, sorrow, and devastation. In a spiritual simplicity he expressed the anguish that proved to be creative.