Romas Viesulas Biography

Romas Viesulas




Romas Viesulas, master printmaker, teacher, and designer, was born in Daugavpils, Latvia in 1918 and studied in Latvian and Lithuanian universities before moving west in 1944 to escape the Nazi and Russian invasions of his homeland.  He stated in an interview with Abraham Davidson: “At the end of my freshman year, the Russians invaded the country; then, at the end of my sophomore year the Germans invaded the country. When I was about to graduate I was in the seventh semester of law school, the Germans closed the University because of student unrest.” He graduated from the Ecole des Arts et Metiers in Freiburg in 1949 and the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts in Paris in 1950.

In 1950, Viesulas was the first artist in residence at the Tamarind Lithography Workshop in Los Angeles and the following year he immigrated to the United States. He joined the staff of the Tyler School of Art of Temple University in 1960 and started the printmaking program and chaired the department for twenty years. Viesulas was given a Lindback Award in 1984 for distinguished teaching at Temple and a University Creativity Award in 1981.

Viesulas worked in lithography, etching, serigraphy, woodcut and inkless intaglio. In an interview with Abraham Davidson, Viesulas talked about his approach to his work: “Since my postgraduate years in Paris I have been trained or rather encouraged to work in the medium directly, rather than to transfer the image from drawing to the medium. Not only do I like this directness of approach but I encourage my students to do likewise.” He was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship in 1958, 1964 and 1969 and a Tiffany Fellowship in 1962. He has exhibited throughout the world. In 1985, his design was selected by the Vatican for a stamp commemorating the fifth centenary of the death of St. Casimir, patron saint of Lithuania.

His work is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Brooklyn Museum, Art Institute of Chicago, National Gallery of Art, Library of Congress, New York Public Library, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Musées d'art et d'histoire in Geneva, Bibliothèque nationale, Academy of Science in Vilnius, Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, and the Museum of Modern Art in Kamakura.

Viesulas was visiting Rome when he died of heart failure on November 6, 1986.