John Udvardy was born in Elyria, Ohio of Hungarian Ancestry. He studied at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and received his BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art. He earned his MFA from Yale University. The Mary C. Page Scholarship allowed him to travel through Europe, Scandinavia, Spain and North Africa. He has worked at a variety of different jobs, including working in the steel mills of Lorain, Ohio with his father, as well as being a brakeman on the New Haven Railroad while he was a graduate student at Yale. During the late fifties while living in Greenwich Village, he worked in a snap factory in the Garment District of New York and in a spindle shop in Brooklyn. To maintain his studio and support himself while living in Boston, he worked as a sign painter there and in Cambridge, Mass.
He was a specialist in an artillery battalion while serving in the Army.
John Udvardy has taught at the Cleveland Institute of Art, Yale University, Brown University and he was Artist-in-Residence at Dartmouth College. He is a full Professor and has taught Three Dimensional Design at the Rhode Island School of Design, as well as being the Chairman of the Foundation Studies Program and Director of the Summer Transfer Program for many years. He has an extensive exhibition record, exhibiting widely throughout the United States in many group and one person shows, some of which include:
- Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire
- Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, Ohio
- Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Massachusetts
- Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York
- Jewett Art Museum, Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massachusetts
- Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio
- Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio
- Newport Art Museum, Newport, Rhode Island
- Currier Gallery of Art, Manchester, New Hampshire
- Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Florida
- Portland Museum of Art, Portland, Maine
- Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New York
John Udvardy has also exhibited at, and been represented by the following galleries:
- Cade Tompkins Projects, Providence, Rhode Island
- Obelisk Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts
- Michael Walls Gallery, San Francisco, California
- The Sara Roby Foundation, Nantucket Island, Massachusetts
- Lenore Gray Gallery, Providence, Rhode Island
- The Roland Gibson Art Foundation, Potsdam, New York
- Suzette Schochet Gallery, Newport, Rhode Island
- The Touchstone Gallery, New York, New York
- Virginia Lynch Gallery, Tiverton, Rhode Island
- Gallery Hirondelle Inc., New York, New York
- Helander Gallery, Palm Beach, Florida
- Imago Gallery, Warren, Rhode Island
- Big Town Gallery, Rochester, Vermont
He is represented in many private and public collections.
For several years John Udvardy served as RISD's Liaison Officer to the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico as well as teaching there as a visiting Critic.
For a three year term he served as juror on the National Screening Committee for the Fulbright Awards at the Institute of International Education in New York.
He received the Silver Medal Alumni Award for Faculty Member of the Year from the Rhode Island School of Design and recently he was awarded RISD's Gold Sophia Medallion in recognition of his 34 years of outstanding teaching and service. He is presently a distinguished Professor Emeritus of the Rhode Island School of Design.
He has four children and lives in Bristol, Rhode Island, works and maintains studios in Warren, Rhode Island.