Virgile Nevjestic Biography

Virgile Nevjestic




Croatian painter and printmaker Virgile Nevjestic was born on November 22, 1935, in the town of Kolo, near Tomislaavgrad and the boundaries of Bosnia and Herzegovina. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts, Zagreb, in 1963 and from the school's special department for graphics in 1966. Two years later, on the advice of art historian Mladenka Sloman, he moved to Paris on a single month's work visa; he would remain there for the rest of his life. 

By 1970, Nevjestic had found a foothold in the Parisian art world with a silver medal awarded at a Youth Biennale and the purchase of his works by the French National Library. He was granted a Montparnasse studio by the French State in 1971, and he was able to put a down payment on a professional press - the press he would use for the entirety of his career. He began a year-long project titled "Le Journal du Vagabond" in 1972 recording the day to day account of his experiences as an artist in Paris, using his own poetry illustrated with copperplate engravings. With a total of 364 copperplates plus an additional four color plates to represent the seasons, it kickstarted his career and brought him critical acclaim. Though the trajectory of his career bound him more to France than to Croatia, he was awarded the coveted Josip Racic Vjesnik Prize in 1974.

Nevjestic took as position at the French Institute for the Restoration of Works of Art and, in 1987, founded L'Academie Virgile, teaching graphic arts and printmaking. He became known for his highly detailed intaglios of a Surrealist nature, creating fine prints, fantastical maps, and illustrating literary art books of both his own poems and those of Charles Baudelaire, Mile Pesorda, Antun Branko Simic, and Dragutin Tadijanovic. He exhibited throughout Europe, the U.S., and Japan. Nevjestic is often credited with calling attention to the brutalities wrought on Bosnians, Croatians, and Herzegovinians in the Croat-Bosniak War of the early 1990s, using essays, written and radio interviews with such publications as Le Figaro, and at an exhibition at the University Library in Paris. 

Nevjestic died in August of 2009 in L'Hay-les-Roses, a suburb of Paris.