Romas Viesulas was born in 1918 in Lithuania, the same year that it became an independent country, though not for long. When it was invaded in the Second World War, he left his home as an exile from war, and never went back. The ‘Diploma for Displaced Persons’ that Viesulas was awarded in 1947 was created by the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, with a campus in Freiburg Germany. It was financed by the French on German soil after the war, specifically for refugees. With this degree, Viesulas emigrated to the US to develop his artistic vision, which centered on his experience of exile. His work is now in the permanent collections of the Met, MoMA, Philadelphia Museum of Art and many other major institutions. Ultimately, he went on to represent the US in the Venice Biennale in 1970. 

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diploma for displaced persons

There are more displaced people and refugees now than at any other time in recorded history, and they are on the move in numbers not seen since Viesulas left his native Lithuania in World War II. Viesulas’ art reminds us of the human aspirations of independence and freedom of expression. With your contribution, Viesulas' legacy can inspire and enable other artists exiled by war, ideology, natural disaster or injustice. 

Will you help us to create a diploma for displaced persons, a grant to help displaced artists reailze their vision? All donations will go towards the creation of a grant to help artists who have lost their country, their home or their voice. Click on the links below or on the GALLERY page to purchase the commemorative print, the catalog, and to make a donation. And thank you.