Jean-Claude Riedel, Paris
His Sale, Pierre Cornette de Saint Cyr, Paris, 6th July 1983, lot 10
Acquired by the present owner in December 1985
Although his work is not well-known to a wider audience, Stanley William Hayter is perhaps the British artist who was most closely associated with the avant-garde of the middle years of the twentieth century.
A chemist by training, Hayter moved to Paris in 1926 and after a short period working under the printmaker Joseph Hecht, set up his own studio, Atelier 17. His technical knowledge and artistic skill, which leant strongly towards the surreal, made the studio a magnet for the Parisian avant-garde, and there is hardly a single major artist who did not work with Hayter, including Miro, Tanguy, Arp and Picasso. With the outbreak of WWII, Hayter returned to England, and in 1940 joined the exodus of major artistic figures to New York. There he re-established Atelier 17 and once more became an influential figure to a new generation of artists, working with Rothko, de Kooning, Pollock, Motherwell and David Smith. In 1949 he published New Ways of Gravure, universally accepted since then as the bible of intaglio printmaking. In 1950 he returned to Paris where he continued to produce ground-breaking prints and to work with an amazing array of artists. An extensive list of artists with whom Hayter worked can be found at www.atelier17.com
In spite of his time being mostly occupied with the printed medium, Hayter painted throughout his career, and although relatively small by comparison with his print output, the body of work produced is significant. Ceres is a superb example of the multi-layered surrealist compositions that are the hallmark of Hayter’s art, and offers us a valuable insight into the cross-currents between Paris and New York in the 1940s. Physically imposing, the strong European surrealist essence is clear, but the vivid colours and the totemic figure do seem to have links with the contemporary American artists such as Gorky, Pollock and Rothko, and as such reminds us that virtually no other British artist would have had any first-hand experience of the emerging New York School for almost a decade.
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