Artist biography

English printmaker, draughtsman and painter, active in France and the USA. In 1926 he settled in Paris, where he enrolled at the Académie Julian and studied burin engraving. In 1929 Hayter was introduced to Surrealism by Yves Tanguy and André Masson. The often violent imagery of Hayter's Surrealist period was stimulated in part by his passionate response to the Spanish Civil War and to the rise of Fascism.

Hayter joined the exile of the Parisian avant-garde in 1939, moving to New York. He ran a course entitled ‘Atelier 17'. His theoretical writings on automatism and the expressive abstraction of his own work were a formative influence on Pollock and others. Hayter's first book, New Ways of Gravure (1949), became an indispensable text for printmakers.

In the 1930s Hayter had concentrated his technical experimentation on adapting the traditional black-and-white techniques of etching and engraving to the aesthetic concerns of modern art. From the 1940s his primary technical preoccupation was with colour printing. In the 1950s, when he reopened the workshop in Paris, Hayter explored an entirely different method of colour etching, in which inks of contrasting viscosities were applied with rollers to a plate etched to different levels. This technique suited the increasingly Tachist look of his prints, in which he explored chance effects and his fascination with waves. From the 1970s Hayter reintroduced figurative elements in combination with a vibrant palette and lyrical freedom of brushstroke or burin line in some of his most fluent and imaginative works.

Bibliography
‘Hayter and Studio 17', MOMA Bull., xii/1 (Aug 1944) [issue dedicated to Hayter]
G. Limbour: Hayter (Paris, 1962)
G. Reynolds: The Engravings of S. W. Hayter (London, 1967)
S. W. Hayter and Atelier 17 (exh. cat. by J. Moser, Madison, U. WI, Elvehjem A. Cent., 1977)
S. W. Hayter, Symphonic Poem of Lines (exh. cat., Kobe, Gallery Santica, 1985)
P. M. S. Hacker, ed.: The Renaissance of Gravure: The Art of S. W. Hayter (Oxford, 1988)
C. Esposito: Hayter e l'atelier 17 (Rome, 1990)
P. Black and D. Moorhead: The Prints of S. W. Hayter: A Complete Catalogue (London, 1993)

DAVID COHEN

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