Kestutis Zapkus was born in 1938 in Dabikinė, Akmenės District. In 1956–1960 he studied at the Chicago Art Institute. After graduation, he attended Syracuse University, and received an M.F.A. degree in 1962. The same year, just before leaving for Europe, he had two memorable exhibitions in Chicago. From 1962 to 1965, he lived in Paris. Since then he has lived and worked in New York. He has taught at Princeton University, Parson’s School of Design, The Cooper Union School of Art, and The Graduate School of the University of Pennsylvania. He has had more than 12 one-man shows and many group exhibitions around the world (France, Mexico, Cuba, Lithuania, Hungary, etc.).
The artist’s tendency is towards the epic and the monumental. Sometimes he works on his immense canvases over a period of several years. Each part of his canvas is a picture in itself, and you have not one, but a hundred or more small images, each of which is delightful to peruse through the multi-layered events of the larger canvas. In the newly independent Lithuania, during his teaching at the Vilnius Academy of Art in 1992, Kestutis Zapkus enthusiastically tried to prepare his students for art in the free world. Symbolically, he donated his important series of works entitled “Children of War” (1981–1984) to the Lithuanian Art Museum in Vilnius. A number of his former students found their way here and are functioning as artists in New York.
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