Stanley William Hayter 1901-1998


Stanley William Hayter CBE was a print maker and painter, working between France and the USA during his lifetime. He studied burin engraving at the Academie Julian in 1926 in Paris. Soon after this, in 1929, Hayter was introduced to Surrealism by Yves Tanguy and Andre Masson, which deeply influenced the course of his work. At this point, Hayter began to draw on Sigmund Freud’s underpinning concept of the psychic unconscious, derived largely from his seminal text The Interpretation of Dreams. In conjunction with this, his work often drew inspiration from the rise of Fascism and to the Spanish Civil War. This often resulted in violent imagery and psychologically charged works which were both figurative and abstract. Hayter was passionate about encouraging other artists to explore print making, and worked with both Picasso and Kandinsky on collaborative printing editions to raise funds for the Spanish Civil War. Hayter opened his studio Atelier 17 at this point.

At the outbreak of World War II, Hayter moved his Atelier 17 to New York, where artists such as Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko came to make prints. He was innovative in his new approaches to viscosity printing, one of the methods he explores in his text New Ways of Gravure (1949), which became an indispensable text for printmakers. His work utilised a technical precision and capability which was facilitated by his years of experimentation with adapting traditional black and white techniques of engraving to his more aesthetic concerns.

In the 1950’s, Hayter re-opened his workshop in Paris, where he predominately focused on using coloured ink to experiment with concepts of chance. His distinctive style fuses a lyrical freedom of colour, with a precise and fluid network of lines.