Stanley Hayter, British (1901 - 1988)

Stanley Hayter

Stanley William Hayter, CBE (December 27, 1901 – May 4, 1988) was a British painter and printmaker associated in the 1930s with Surrealism and from 1940 onward with Abstract Expressionism. Regarded as one of the most significant printmakers of the 20th century, in 1927 Hayter founded the legendary Atelier 17 studio in Paris. Since his death in 1988, it has been known as Atelier Contrepoint. Among the artists Hayter was credited with influencing were Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti, Joan Miró, Alexander Calder, Marc Chagall, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Mauricio Lasansky, K.R.H. Sonderborg, K.P. Brehmer and Tinca Stegovec.

He is noted for his innovative work in the development of viscosity printing (a process that exploits varying viscosities of oil-based inks to lay three or more colours on a single intaglio plate).

Hayter was born in Hackney, London, on 27 December 1901, the son of painter William Harry Hayter. He received a degree in chemistry and geology from King's College London and worked in Abadan, Iran for the Anglo-Persian Oil Company from 1922 to 1925. After Hayter returned home to convalesce from an attack of malaria, his company arranged a one-man show at their headquarters in London of the paintings and drawings he had made while overseas. The exhibition's success (almost all the paintings sold) may have convinced Hayter to pursue a career as an artist.

In 1926, Hayter went to Paris, where he studied briefly at the Académie Julian. That same year, he met Polish printmaker Józef Hecht, who introduced Hayter to copper engraving using the traditional burin technique. Hecht helped Hayter acquire a press for starting a printmaking studio for artists young and old, experienced and inexperienced, to work together in exploring the engraving medium. In 1927, Hayter opened the studio, and in 1933 he moved it to No. 17, Rue Campagne-Première, where it became internationally known as Atelier 17.
Hayter worked with many contemporary artists to encourage their exploration of printmaking as a medium. Artists such as Miró, Picasso and Kandinsky collaborated on creating print editions (Fraternité and Solidarité) to raise funds for the support of the Republican cause in the Spanish Civil war and the Communist Cause.
At the outbreak of World War II, Hayter moved Atelier 17 to New York City and taught prinkmaking at the New School. Artists such as Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko made prints at the New York Atelier 17. During the war, Hayter collaborated with British artist, historian and poet Roland Penrose and others in setting up a camouflage training unit. He also first produced finished prints with the method he called “simultaneous color printing,” where color was added to inked intaglio plates by means such as color-ink-soaked rags, stencils, or rolling a thicker, more viscous ink over a thinner ink, where the thicker ink is rejected and adheres only to the surface surrounding the first ink.
Hayter acted as advisor to the Museum of Modern Art for the show Britain at War. In connection with the exhibition, he devised an analog computer to duplicate the angle of the sun and shadow lengths for any time, day and latitude.

Returning to Paris in 1950, Hayter took Atelier 17 with him. Hayter was a prolific printmaker, completing more than 400 before his death. In 1966 his book, New Ways Of Gravure, was published by Oxford University Press.

Hayter continued to develop painting alongside printmaking. His interest in automatism led him to associate with the Surrealists, and in the United States he was an innovator in the Abstract Expressionism movement.

After Hayter's death on 4 May 1988 'Atelier 17' was re-named 'Atelier Contrepoint'.
In 2005 the Tate Archive acquired Hayter's papers.

Hayter was married three times: to Edith Fletcher (dissolved 1929), to American sculptor Helen Phillips (dissolved 1971), and to Irish poet and writer Desiree Moorhead, with whom he lived in Paris at the time of his death in 1988.

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