Stanley William Hayter

Myth of Creation


Not on display

Stanley William Hayter 1901–1988
Engraving, aquatint and etching on copper
Image: 251 × 200 mm
Purchased 1972

Display caption

Hayter's interest in the combination of chance and spontaneous creativity is conveyed in the titles of these two works: Hunt the Needle and Myth of Creation. An element of controlled design is also evident, particularly in Hunt the Needle where a woman's anatomical features clearly emerge from the tangled lines. The prints demonstrate the technical refinement that made Hayter one of the century's most innovative printmakers. His Paris workshop, Atelier 17, was a focus for Surrealist experimentation, and American artists drew upon his expertise when he established a workshop in New York in the 1940s.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

Stanley William Hayter 1910-1988

P07027 Myth of Creation 1940

Inscribed ‘Etat’ b.l., ‘Myth of Creation’ b.c. and ‘S. W. Hayter 40’ b.r.
Engraving, aquatint and soft ground etching on copper, 10 x 8 (25.4 x 20.3).
Purchased from Christopher Drake Ltd (Grant-in-Aid) 1973.
Coll: The artist’s collection; Christopher Drake Ltd.
Exh: Christopher Drake Ltd, October-November 1973 (4, repr.).
Lit: Graham Reynolds, The Engravings of S. W. Hayter, 1967, p.6, repr. pl.8.

The artist explained that this work . . . ‘features heads, an elongated figure, a phallus and refers to creation in general—the division of the waters and the sky.’ (letter to the compiler 24 May 1974).

In work of this date Hayter dealt frequently with the theme of creation, at the same time investigating sources of energy through the use of line. This print is an early demonstration of his practice of combining different printing methods—in this case engraving, aquatint and soft-ground etching processes.

Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1972–1974, London 1975.

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