1940 - 1945
Hayter joined the exodus of artists from Europe to the United States and arrived in New York on May 31st, 1940.
In the Fall of 1940 he began to teach intaglio printmaking at the New School for Social Research. Initially poorly subscribed, his "Atelier 17 course" was a popular one by the time Hayter moved out of the New School in 1945.
Atelier 17 in New York exerted
an important influence over the future direction of art in America.
The atelier became a convergence point for young American artists
and avant-garde Europeans.
New York, 1942 (left to right):
First row: Stanley William Hayter, Leonora Carrington, Frederick Kiesler, Kurt Seligmann. Second row: Max Ernst, Amedee Ozenfant, Andre Breton, Fernand Leger, Berenice Abbott. Third row: Jimmy Ernst, Peggy Guggenheim, John Ferren, Marcel Duchamp, Piet Mondrian.
People nowadays have little
sense of how little intermingling there was.... Everybody now
knows that the European artists in exile were here during the
war and they all assume that these artists were everywhere and
that everybody saw them. It wasn't that at all. The Europeans
mainly saw the Museum of Modern Art people and society people,
not especially because they wanted to but they were sort of taken
in hand that way. -
Robert Motherwell, interview by Paul Cummings, Greenwich CT, 24
Nov 1971; Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington,
Atelier 17 in Greenwich Village, NY, 1951
Art Digest 15 Oct 1940:
His classes at the New School, which are for advanced students and professional artists only, will stress independent experimentation with the various print media. 'I want the artists,' Hayter told a New York Sun reporter, 'to try impossible, different, unusual methods. If they want advice or information, I'll give it. I'll teach them technique. I'm not teaching art first of all, it can't be done. Then, if I gave my ideas to any one they'd become secondhand. That's no good.... The test of whether a piece of work is good or bad is whether it's dead or alive, and that you can tell by feeling.
Stanley William Hayter (Laocoon) 1943 (c) 2016 Stanley William Hayter - Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.
In 1943 Hayter's print "Laocoon"
wins The Print Club of Philadelphia prize and the edition of 30
was sold through Willard Gallery in New York.
1943-1944 Stanley William Hayter (Centauresse) 1943-1944 (c) 2016 Stanley William Hayter - Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris. "Centauresse" was Hayter's first work to print the intaglio and surface of the plate simultaneously.
In 1944 an important exhibition of work of Atelier 17 was held at the Museum of Modern Art . "It's impact on American printmaking has been likened to that of the Armory Show on America painting. (14)
Some of the members of the New York School who worked with Hayter include William Baziotes, Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and David Smith (see Artists Who Worked at Atelier 17). Contemporary commentators viewed Hayter to be a member of the new school and his theories and work were an influence on the American artists.
Rosamund Frost Art News 1 August
If at first glance the Hayter pupils might appear to work under too strong a domination of their master, a closer inspection will show a great number of personal trends. Shared only are the technical methods (there are no trade secrets in this workshop) and the general tendency toward abstraction as a language which permits of maximum experiment. Scheduled to tour America in the forthcoming year, this is a show which will unquestionably leave its mark on the graphic art of twentieth century America.
As explained by Joann Moser (Atelier 17: A 50th Anniversary Retrospective Exhibition; 1977; Elvehjem Art Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, WI.):
At the time Hayter reestablished Atelier 17 in New York, his involvement with technical experimentation, automatism, and abstraction reflected some of the most advanced tendencies in all art media. The search for new means of expression that led to a rapid succession of art movements in the twentieth century had as great an impact on the materials and methods of creating art as it did on form and content. Traditional media were explored and revitalized. New techniques and materials were invented to allow the artist a greater range of expression, and they in turn inspired certain stylistic innovations directly related to their physical properties and possibilities....
When Atelier 17 was established in New York in 1940, it provided a catalyst for many artists to experiment more freely and imaginatively with materials. Hayter actively encouraged the participation of painters and sculptors in the workshop, because he was aware that some of the finest prints had historically been done by painters. He was not interested in printmakers as such, but in artists who would employ and develop the print media as another means of creative expression....
Stylistically the work done at Atelier 17 was also more advanced than much of contemporary American art. For those American artists who rejected what they considered to be an art which was too provincial in its emphasis on the American scene or social commentary, European modernism provided the key to a more international, avant-garde outlook....(15)
Following an Atelier 17 show at the Willard Gallery, Hayter decided that the workshop was now well enough established to survive on it own. There followed a gradual break with the New School and the studio moved to 41 East 8th Street in Greenwich Village.
The success of the Museum of Modern Art show generated such nationwide interest that Hayter was heavily booked for lectures and workshops around the country for the next several years. During this time he held one man shows every year and biannual shows for Atelier 17.
He returned briefly to Paris in 1946 to survey what the situation there was. He found the Atelier in a shambles and his press and copper plates gone (having been confiscated by the Vichy government in "default" of payment for the rent on the Paris studio occupied in absentia). Although he saw many old friends he realized that the economic and political climate was not favorable for a return to France at that time.
In England at this time Hayter's work and that of Atelier 17 was somewhat less well received. The critic Perspex, writing in Apollo comments on a show at the Leicester Gallery.
The danger of all this is that the means becomes the end of art. Crude fellows like Albrecht Durer digging away at their copper plate with a graver, or Rembrandt etching with a needle, produced results which are not negligible....
There are pleasant and even fine things here, but so much of it is mere patternmaking for the sake of technique. In a choice between doing simply and doodling elaborately I am all for the former. These young men and women in America who are so vividly conscious of the way they express themselves are often willing to leave the subject to the subconscious; and the spectator, conditioned by Mr. Hayter's preamble [to the catalogue], and by a prepreamble by Hubert Read, too easily accepts that point of view.... I personally would not say that technical precision with which the surrealist images in this exhibition are presented makes them any more effective. (16)
New Ways of Gravure was published and remains to this day the definitive text on the subject of intaglio printmaking.