Vincent Hack Biography

Vincent Hack




Printmaker, painter, stained glass designer, illustrator, and educator for the U.S. Military Vincent Isherwood Hack was born in Falls Church, Minnesota, on December 30, 1913. He earned his B.A. in Fine Arts from the University of Wisconsin in 1936 and his Masters in 1938, and taught as an art teacher until the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. He then enrolled in officer candidate school and was eventually stationed in the Medical Administrative Corps after promotion to First Lieutenant, serving as a medical illustrator. He would evntually make Captain, and worked in the Education Branch and Health Education Unit. 

Following the war, he took a position in the Department of the Interior, Cheyenne, Wyoming for a brief period of time. However, in 1947 he returned to military life, now as a medical ilustrator for the U.S. Army's Medical Section, Far East Command, Japan. It was here that he discovered the color woodcuts of Hiroshi Yoshida. Greatly inspired, and hoping to learn the technique directly from the master himself, he sought out Yoshida's workshop and attempted to obtain lessons from him, often knocking on Yoshida's door several times a week. But it wouldn't be until 1948 that he finally got to study directly with Yoshida, in exchange for formal translations into English of the ad copy Yoshida wanted for upcoming exhibitions. They focused on color analysis for six months, and this was followed by two years of study under a master block cutter and a master printer.

Hack returned to the United Stated in 1951 and continued to produce color woodcuts, mainly figurative works of the daily lives of Japanese, Chinese, and Korean peoples and culture. He was mostly known for his American pin-up style images of Asian women, saved from dismissal as pure kitsch by his expertise in the subtle and diffcult Japanese color woodcut methods -- a rarity at the time for an American. 

Through the early 1950s Hack studied at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington, D.C. He gave an interview with Popula Mechnics (August 1952, issue 116, p. 202) in which he relayed his color woodcut technique. He was then stationed in Texas where he served as the Medical Training Aids Branch Chief, the Officer-in-Charge of the Army Medical Department (AMEDD) Museum, and the Brooks Army Medical Center's Chief Information Officer. He used his artistic training to study "color psychology" with regard to the effects of color on human activity. Working for the Surgeon General in 1959, he used his background to develop color and light schemes that promoted learning, relaxation, and safety in classrooms, hospitals, and other institutions. He is most recognized for his use of the mint green found in many medical facilities throughout the mid to late 20th century. Hack also designed and executed stained glass windows, including one installed in the Stimson Library at Fort Sam Houston. 

Lieutenant Colonel Vincent Hack retired in 1969 and continued to lecture on his color psychology theories until not long before his death on January 20th, 2001.

A more thorough accounting of Hack's life can be found on the Eastern Impressions blog.