Skip to content
Back to List

Stanley William Hayter

Stanley William Hayter (b. 1901, London, United Kingdom – d. 1988, Paris, France) is an important British artist and pioneering figure of American modernism, known primarily for printmaking. Associated with the Surrealist and Abstract Expressionist movements, he invented innovative printmaking techniques, including intaglio and surface color printing, and established Atelier 17, a famous workshop that spurred revolutionary practices in printmaking for over three decades. Hayter’s work, under the influence of the Surrealist principle of automatism, is characterized by a swirling cursive line, which creates a sense of space and movement. In his both of his roles as an artist and mentor, Hayter challenged the idea that printmaking was merely a “reproductive” art.

Trained as a geologist and chemist, Hayter went to Paris in 1926 to pursue his artistic career. After working at the Académie Julian for six months, he made his first drypoints, including Rue les Plantes, which depicted Parisian streets. At this time, Hayter came into contact with Joseph Hecht, whose work inspired him to pursue engraving. In 1927, Hayter established a studio practice devoted to experimental and cooperative printmaking. He was joined by artists such as Miró, Arp, Tanguy, Picasso, Chagall, and Calder. When the studio moved in 1933, it adopted its now-famous rubric, “Atelier 17,” after its new street address at 17, later becoming Atelier Contrepoint after Hayter’s death. Along with artists frequenting his printing studio, Hayter revived intaglio techniques, developed new methods such as soft-ground etching and simultaneous color printing, and applied the tenets of Surrealism to his printmaking practice.

With the outbreak of World War II, Hayter moved his studio to New York. While in Paris, his studio had been frequented by artists such as Joan Miró, André Masson, and Max Ernst, while the lower Manhattan iteration of his creative enterprise attracted a community of European emigrés escaping the war at home. Younger American artists who would later become affiliated with the New York School, such as Louise Bourgeois, Robert Motherwell, Louise Nevelson, and Jackson Pollock found their beginnings in his New York studio. Atelier 17—which had been designed to be a space defined by artistic collaboration and experimentation—proved instrumental to the development of gestural abstraction in the United States.

Hayter returned to Paris in 1950 and re-established his studio in the French Capital until he passed away in 1988.

Hayter’s work is included in numerous private and public collections, among them the Bibliothèque Nationale de Paris, FR; British Museum, UK; Centre National des Arts Plastiques, FR; Centre Pompidou, FR; Harvard Art Museums, MA; Metropolitan Museum, NY; Modern Museum of Art, NY; Museo Reina Sofia, ES;Musée d’art moderne de la ville de Paris, FR; Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec, CA; National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA; Tate Gallery, UK and the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY.

His work has been included in important exhibitions and retrospectives at the Museu De Arte Contemporânea da Universidade de São Paulo (2019), Syracuse University Art Galleries (2017), Centre d'Art la Malmaison de Cannes (2017), Metropolitan Museum (2016), Museum of Modern Art (2010), National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. (2009), Istituto Nazionale per la Grafica, (1990), Royal Academy (1989), Ashmolean Museum, (1988), Worthing Museum (1982), Oxford Art Gallery (1981), Reykjavik Museum of Modern Art (1979), Istituto Nazionale per la Grafica, Rome (1978), Centre Pompidou (1978), Elvehjem Art Center, University of Wisconsin, Madison (1977), Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (1972), Museum of Modern Art, Istanbul (1969), Smithsonian Institution (1969), Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris (1969), Château-Musée de Dieppe (1968), V&A Museum, London (1967), Cabinet des Estampes, Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, Geneva (1966), Modern Art Museum, Kamakura (1962), Museo Emilio A Caraffa (1961), 2nd International Exhibition of Prints, Tokyo (1960), Metropolitan Art Museum, Tokyo (1959) and the Venice Biennale (1958).
Read more