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 Vytautas Ignas  (1924 - 2009)

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Lived/Active: Illinois/New York / Lithuania      Known for: folk art inspired, expressionist painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:

A painter of folk art inspired, colorful figures and fantasy scenes, he was also an etcher and stained glass designer.

Vytautas Ignatavicius (Ignas) was born on May 16, 1924, in Zaciza, Lithuania.  Because of his father's military service, the Ignatavicius family had to relocate a number of times and Vytautas received his primary and secondary education in Liskiava, Lazdijai, Birzai, and Vilnius.  He graduated from the Great high school in Vilnius in 1941.

Vytautas abandonned his plan to study architecture  and began art studies in 1941 at the Vlinius Academy of Art.  His drawing teachers were Antanas Gudaitis and Liudas Vilimas, and his painting teacher was Justinas Vienozinskis.  When the Academy  was closed in 1943 by the Nazis, Vytautas attended secret art studies organized by Adolfas Valeska at the Vilnius Museum of Art, where Adolfas Valeska taught painting, Juozas Mikenas - drawing, Mikalojus Vorobjovas - art history, Levas Karsavinas - cultural history, and Petras Juodelis - art history of Vilnius.

In the summer of 1944 he traveled west and in 1946 Vytautas entered a school of fine and applied arts, Ecole des Arts et Metiers, in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany, where he continued his studies of painting under Viktoras Vizgirda and Adolfas Valeska and drawing under Vytautas K. Jonynas and Vytautas Kasiulis, earning a Master's Degree in fine arts in 1948.  Subsequently, he studied graphic art techniques under Telesforas Valius.

In 1950, Vytautas Ignatavicius emigrated to the United States and settled in Chicago, Illinois, where he studied  stained glass techniques with Albinas Elskus in the evenings, while working odd jobs during the day.  In 1952 he relocated to Cleveland, where he worked at stained glass studios. In 1958 he became a citizen of United States and shortened his name to Ignas.  In 1959 he married Birute Dargyte-Daukantiene.

In 1962, the family moved to New York City, where Ignas became a designer at the Jonynas & Shepherd Art Studio.  Later, he created stained glass window designs for the Duco Studio.  In 1970 he began a two-year term teaching book art, design and graphic art at the Catan-Rose Institute of Art on Long Island. He was a member of the New York Lithuanian Artists' Association and The Print Club of Philadelphia.

In 1972, the family moved to Ashford, Connecticut and built a house with an artist studio.  For steady income, Ignas drove a delivery truck and devoted his free time to painting, engraving, and fishing.  In 1985 he retired from his job and devoted himself completely to art and fishing.  In 1989 he became an honor member in the Union of Lithuanian Artists.

Vytautas Ignas died in 2009.

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