Jacques (Jacob) Koslowsky (Jokubas Kazlauskas) was born in the town of Pakuonis in the Prienai district of Lithuania on March 13th 1904 to a humble family of Jewish origin. His parents gave him the traditional East European Jewish name Jankel (Yankel in English). From 1920 to 1924 he studied at the Kaunas Art School. He initially studied medicine and art in Florence, then switched exclusively to art. He subsequently won a scholarship and studied art in Florence at Reggia Academy of Fine Art under the tutelage of Felice Carena. After finishing his studies he left for Tel-Aviv where he participated in joint exhibitions, became a representative at the Tel Aviv Museum, and worked as an art critic. It was here that he changed his name to Jacques Koslowsky.
Following his stay in Israel, Koslowsky moved to Paris and studied with the greats of the Ecole de Paris at the Paris Beaux Arts until 1932. After completing this training he opened a studio in Paris. “I had a studio in Montparnasse and, obviously, I met everyone, Mattisse, Soutine, Kidoine, Kremen and others. I also met a lot of young artists.” In 1927 he exhibited at the Salon d’Automne and continued to exhibit here throughout his career. In 1928 he contributed to the Salon des Independents for the first time and showed there on several other occasions. In 1929 he made his first contribution to the Salon des National and also showed here at other exhibits. From 1930 until 1938 he exhibited his works at 6 joint art exhibitions in Kaunas, Lithuania along with artists’ D. Lautenshlager, Leiser Kagan, Zale Becker, Cherne Pertzikovich, Meyer Aizin, Chain Meyer Feinstein, Chaim Shtreikhman, Elias Kaplan, K. Gdaliya, Hirsch Markus, Mina Karn, L. Kenskyte-Shaltuperiene, and Tsile Epshtein. In 1939 several of his works were accepted for an exhibition in Trocadero.
Koslowsky remained in Paris and painted there until shortly after Hitler’s occupation of France. In 1940, several months following the occupation, he fled to Spain crossing the border at the town of Irun on his way to Portugal. From there he made his way to New York where he lived at 244 Riverside Drive. During his time in New York he worked as an illustrator and painted for the Burrel, Rembrandt and Glezer Galleries and produced prints for fancy scarves that were all the rage at the time. He was granted citizenship in 1946 and in 1947 returned to Paris to paint. He was later represented by Di Salvo Gallery in New York City where he was given a one man show in 1966.
In 1952 two of Koslowsky’s paintings were purchased by the French Ministry of National Education for the National Collection and his paintings have hung in most major museums in France.
After 1964 he began spending more and more time in Palma on the island of Mallorca. In 1969 he moved temporarily to Deia and the following year to Bunyola. “I chose Bunyola to be my home because I had never seen anything more picturesque in my life. Even Capri and Sorrento pale next to it. The mountains and the colors of Bunyola are absolutely enchanting and cannot be compared to any other thing I’ve seen, and I have seen half the globe.” The last years of his life were spent in Bunyola painting the town, it’s people, and the surrounding countryside.
Jacques Koslowsky died on the 30th of October in 1993 at a government rest home in Palma. Today the Association of Friends of Jacques Koslowsky functions in Bunyola. In 2004 they organized a retrospective of the artist’s work in Palma to mark the 100th anniversary of his birth.
Information provided by Bill Scherl