Gvido Augusts was born in Kuldiga, Latvia, in 1932. As a child he was displaced by the events of the Second World War, and he spent the next five years as a refugee in post-war Germany, before emigrating to the United States in 1950. During the ensuing decade he studied art at San Jose State College and the San Francisco Art Institute. Between 1956 and 1958 he served in the United States Navy aboard the USS Ajax (AR-6), a posting that gave him ample opportunity to travel and experience the culture of Japan. Upon his return, he worked first at IBM and then as an architectural illustrator. In 1959, Gvido Augusts moved from the South Bay to Berkeley, California, just as the turbulent decade of the 1960’s was beginning. During this time he traveled and exhibited extensively, producing increasingly more abstract and experimental works, including a series of ground-breaking posters for the films of Jean-Luc Godard commissioned by the University of California Art Museum. In 1968 Gvido Augusts purchased a printing press from Stevens van Strum of Oyez Press, and founded his own imprint, Gvido Press producing hundreds of limited edition prints, as well as portfolios and illustrated books, including works pertaining to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Alexander Pushkin. Around this time, his travels to Central America, Africa, and Europe prompted an enduring interest in tribal and ethnographic art and design. These experiences would influence not only his art, but lead to him to write and lecture about ethnography and art history, particularly as it pertains to his birth country of Latvia. Witnessing first hand the destruction and disappearance of valuable ethnographic and folkloric material, Gvido Augusts worked to collect rare and valuable historic images and artifacts, to see them deposited safely at specialized academic institutions and archives. To this day, he administers multiple charitable foundations in support of art and literature. For more than fifty years, he has continued to paint and exhibit his work. In 2006, he moved from California to Oregon, where he lives in the Willamette Valley in a home surrounded by oak trees. For inspiration he studies the shapes of mosses and lichen that grow in their canopy, and reads the New York Times every day.
"Owl" 1984, acrylic / paper, 50x38 cm
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