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Hank Virgona

b. 1929

Born in Brooklyn on the eve of the Great Depression, October 1929, Hank Virgona did not evince an active interest in art until he left the Army some 23 years later.  

Inspired first by photography, his early success’ lead him to illustrator Jim Avati whose work and friendship influenced Virgona.  In 1953, after finishing his military service with the U.S. Army, Virgona began working in the commercial art field, eventually winning a number of awards including the Gold Medal at the Society of Illustrators.  “Up until this time I hadn't gone to museums or galleries too much, but now I did and there found a world that I related to. In fact, I found a few artists who I had the temerity to say were doing what I was doing. Among them was Giorgio Morandi whose small still life’s seemed to have within them moments I had experienced. Jack Levine also answered my feelings about social justice as well as painting itself as a plastic medium. So I felt in harmony with what I called "fine art" and decided, albeit at a somewhat late stage in life (I was about 30 years old) to become an "Artist".

In the late 60's, he gave up commercial work to concentrate on his own ideas, which gradually evolved mainly into still lifes in which the objects became metaphors for his feelings. Since the early 70's, Virgona has had over 30 one-man exhibitions in the United States. He has received a number of awards and purchase prizes from  The National Academy of Design, NY; The National Art Club, NY; Print Magazine, "Twelve Best of the Year"; and Pratt Graphic Center, NY; among others.  Virgona received a grant from the Kantor Platt Foundation and awarded The Perennial Wisdom Medal (gold medal).

Virgona’ s work is in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; Museum of the City of New York, NY; New York Public Library, NY; Wichita Museum of Art, KS; Skidmore College Print Collection, Saratoga Springs, NY; Massachusetts Institute of Technology Collections, MA; and others.

“I have always maintained that Art is not about making pretty pictures. The ideal that I have aspired to is best summed up by the artist Joaquin Torres Garcia, who said, ‘Art is not manufactured... it is the understanding of a profound harmony... and living in accordance with it.’  This has been my guiding Light.”

Link: Interview with Hank Virgona