Stanley William Hayter was born in Hackney, London, on December 27, 1901. He studied chemistry and geology at King’s College and first worked as a research chemist. Meanwhile he trained in printmaking at the Central School of Art. From 1922 to 1925, he worked as a chemist and geologist for the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in Abedan, at which point he also started producing landscapes, Cubist-style compositions, and pencil portraits of the company employees.

After returning to London Hayter decided to devote himself entirely to art, and in 1926 he moved to Paris to study for three months at the Académie Julian. Keeping company with Alberto Giacometti, Alexander Calder, and Joan Miró, he produced his first drypoints, woodcuts, and aquatints and exhibited these prints at the Salon d’Automne. The following year he opened his own printmaking workshop and had his first solo exhibition at the Galerie Sacre du Printemps. He approached Surrealism in 1929 and participated in various Surrealist exhibitions throughout the 1930s. After moving to 17 Rue Campagne-Première, the workshop was renamed Atelier 17, and was frequented by many artists most of whom were associated with Surrealist and Abstract art.

At the outbreak of war, Hayter closed the Atelier and moved first to London and then, in 1940, to New York, where he reopened the Atelier at the New School for Social Research. Those European artists who had relocated to the United States converged at the studio and were joined by members of the budding New York School, among them Robert Motherwell, Mark Rothko, and Jackson Pollock. In 1944 The Museum of Modern Art, New York, dedicated an exhibition to Atelier 17. It was a very important event for American graphic art and traveled to several American museums. In the 1940s Hayter taught at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco, the Art Institute of Chicago, and at the Design Department of Brooklyn College in New York. He moved back to Paris in 1950 and once again opened Atelier 17. The following year he started exhibiting regularly at the Salon de Mai. In 1958 he won the award for painting at the Venice Biennale and the Lugano prize for the International Graphic Biennial of Grenchen, Switzerland. Among the various honors he received was an honorary membership to the Royal Academy in 1982, and in 1986 he was promoted to Commandeur dell’Ordre des Arts et Lettres. He died in Paris on May 4, 1988.


Stanley William Hayter