Viktoras Vizgirda

(1904 - 1993)


Viktoras Vizgirda was born on January 14, 1904 in the village of Dominikoniai. His father farmed on rented land and was a surveyor by trade. The farm burned down during the First World War in 1914 and the family relocated to Kaunas, where Viktoras Vizgirda began his secondary education. While at the Saule High School, he became acquainted with artist Adomas Galdikas, who came to teach drawing classes there in 1918. On December 15, 1920, he started attending drawing classes by Justinas Vienozinskis. These classes became the nucleus of the new Kaunas Art School in 1922. Viktoras Vizgirda continued his studies at the School, majoring in painting, and was part of the first graduating class in May of 1926. At a school-sponsored exhibit in 1924, Viktoras Vizgirda won a bronze medal for a painting of his own portrait. In 1925 and 1926, his paintings continued to gain him recognition and written commendations. In 1926, Vizgirda received a one-year scholarship to study art in Paris from the Lithuanian government. He departed for Paris in November. While in Paris, he attended Académie Lhote, Académie de la Grande Chaumiére, and V. Shukhayev's drawing studio. From 1928 to 1940, he taught drawing classes in secondary schools at Raseiniai, Pagegiai and Kaunas.
Viktoras Vizgirda was an active member of Lithuanian artist associations. In 1930, he became a member the Society of Independent Artists, and started to exhibit his works. In 1932, with several artist colleagues, he formed the “ARS” collective to foster an original Lithuanian style in the spirit of 20th century art. In 1935, he became a member of the commission on fine arts at the Ministry of Culture of the Lithuanian government. In May of 1936, he was elected for a two-year term as the president of the Lithuanian Artists' Union. In 1937, he was chosen to be among the artists representing Lithuania in exhibits at Riga in Latvia and Tallinn in Estonia.
When appointed as inspector at the Vilnius School of Fine Arts, Viktoras Vizgirda moved to Vilnius in 1940. The following year, the school was renamed the Academy of Fine Arts and Vizgirda became its director. In 1943, the Academy, along with all other institutions of higher learning in Lithuania, was closed by the Nazis. In 1944, as the German-Russian front neared Vilnius, he withdrew to the West, taking up temporary residence in Austria and Germany. From 1946 to 1949 he headed the painting department at the Ecole des Arts et Métiers (School of Applied Arts) at Freiburg/im Breisgau. He emigrated to the United States in 1950, settled in Boston, and till 1966 worked at a number of stained glass studios. At the same time, he independently produced his own creations in stained glass.
In 1991, Vizgirda suffered a stroke and paralysis. His last painting, started in 1990, was not finished. Viktoras Vizgirda died on July 10, 1993, in Cape Cod. His remains were cremated, returned to the country of his birth, and buried on October 5, 1993, at the Antakalnis cemetery in Vilnius, Lithuania.


Most of Vizgirda's artistic output consists of landscapes and still-lifes. His work was significantly influenced by his teacher Justinas Vienozinskis, a master of the landscape, and by French artists of the post-impressionist school. However, Viktoras Vizgirda developed his own style early in his development as a painter, and he remained faithful to it all his life. With the exception of his portraits, colours rather than form of depicted objects constituted his principal form of expression. Able to work with a variety of media, he created works in stained glass, ceramics, textiles, pastels, and watercolour, but his preferred media were oils and acrylics on canvas.