Miró in New York, 1947: Miró, Hayter and Atelier 17 explores a group of little-known etchings Joan Miró made with influential British printmaker Stanley William Hayter at Atelier 17, the New York outpost of his seminal printmaking studio in Paris.
Both Miró and Hayter were key participants in the community of artists in Paris who ultimately formed the core of international movements in contemporary art from the 1930s to 1945. In the 1940s many of these artists, including Hayter, moved to New York to escape the horrors of the Nazi occupation of Paris. There the confluence of these émigrés and the ingenious and energetic American artists who created Abstract Expressionism fueled the relocation of the center of the art world to New York. Miró and Hayter remained central to these cultural environments in Paris and then New York.
After Hayter established Atelier 17 in New York in 1940, this hive of artists' activity became the nexus for the commingling of European and American artists and their ideas. Miró and Hayter, who became friends in Paris in the 1930s, both loved to push boundaries and had collaborated on two portfolios of engravings made in support of the Spanish Republic, which was at war against General Franco's fascist forces. This exhibition includes a collaborative engraving printed from the same copper plate with contributions by Miró and Hayter.
While visiting the United States for the first time in 1947, Miró spent a brief time in New York at Atelier 17 where he explored and manipulated a new approach to etching, the open bite, a technique which exposes a large, open area of the plate to acid. In her essay "Printmaking Techniques at Atelier 17" included in her catalog, Atelier 17: A 50th Anniversary Retrospective Exhibition, Joann Moser writes, "One of the artists who exploited the effects of open bite etching most successfully was Joan Miró. He had been working at Atelier 17 on and off since the early 1930s, but had limited his prints to fairly conventional etchings and drypoints…. The variety and unorthodoxy of the devices Miró employed testify not only to the imaginative powers of an individual artist, but also to the uninhibited attitude toward experimentation that prevailed at Atelier 17 during the 1940s."
During this period Miró continued his experimentation when he joined other artists in the studio in investigations to decipher the method behind the printed fluid script in the etchings of the 19th-century painter, printmaker, and poet, William Blake. A fragment of one of Blake's etched plates was borrowed from collector Lessing J. Rosenwald and artists at Atelier 17 worked to unlock Blake's secret. A set of proof impressions from these experiments will be included in the exhibition.
An innovation Miró incorporated into his printmaking was to cut out shapes from his copper plates which can be seen in his L'Antitête series, and one that other artists also began to use, notably Terry Haass, an exceptional printmaker in her own right, who constructed sculptural dimension in her works by soldering wire to her plates. The atmosphere that Hayter wanted to encourage in his experimental studio was that of a collaborative exploration of new printmaking techniques, evident in the unique state proofs showing the development of color etchings and the original copper plates which are rare, unique and crucial contributions to this exhibition.
Miró in New York, 1947: Miró, Hayter and Atelier 17 will include works by Fred Becker, Terry Haass, Gabor Peterdi, André Masson, Anne Ryan, Yves Tanguy, Herman Cherry, Helen Phillips, and others, all of who worked in Atelier 17 alongside Hayter and Miró.
The exhibition includes works from the Museum’s Permanent Collection and loans from Dolan/Maxwell Gallery, Philadelphia, and private collections.