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Atelier 17

DATES March 18, 1978 through May 14, 1978
COLLECTIONS Contemporary Art
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  • March 3, 1978 Atelier 17, an exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of the renowned printmaking workshop founded by Stanley William Hayter in 1927, will be held at The Brooklyn Museum, Eastern Parkway and Washington Avenue, from March 18 through May 14. The exhibition traces the visual achievement of Atelier 17 from its beginnings in Paris, its sojourn in New York in the 1940s, and its return to Paris in the l950s, where the studio remains active. Atelier 17 brought artists and craftsmen together to develop innovative techniques, among them the development of simultaneous color printing. The 119 prints by 69 artists on view include works by Alechinsky, Calder, Dali, Kandinsky, Lansansky, Masson, Nevelson, Peterdi, Tanguy, and Hayter. Organized by the Elvehjem Art Center at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, the exhibition is supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. A book-length catalogue is available.*

    Atelier 17’s significance to the history of modern printmaking is that it was the first 20th-century workshop to encourage artists to share their ideas, both technical and esthetic, and to work together in a common situation. Such an arrangement was customary until the end of the 19th century, when the cult of the individual artist became pronounced. Hayter brought artists and craftsmen together again, and the results were new theories and techniques that have benefited many printmakers today. The development of simultaneous color printing, perhaps the most important technical innovation of Atelier 17, made it possible for multi-colored prints to be made without creating a separate plate for each color, allowing artists like Krishna Reddy to print up to 20 colors in one run of the press. Hayter urged the artists in his workshop to experiment, and many used unconventional means to create their images. One such development was the creation of the plaster print, whereby the plate is inked and printed in plaster of Paris instead of on paper, thus emphasizing the 3-dimensional image already inherent in the plate.

    World War II disrupted Hayter’s operations in Paris and forced the move to New York where Atelier 17 sparked an unprecedented interest in printmaking. Few American artists had been involved in printmaking before the war, but the facilities that Hayter provided, along with the influx of prominent European artists like Ernst and Miro, gave printmaking a respectability and appeal it had never before had in this country. Among the early American artists to work at Atelier 17 was Jackson Pollock, who made his only known prints at Hayter’s New York workshop. Atelier 17’s influence has continued to spread throughout this country by artists trained at the studio who later founded printmaking departments at dozens of universities and colleges.

    Prior to its current showing at The Brooklyn Museum, Atelier 17 was seen at the University of Wisconsin, Madison (October 9--December 4, 1977), and at the University of Iowa Museum of Art, Iowa City (December 16, 1977--February 26, 1978). It will later travel to the University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor (June 4--July 30, 1978) and the Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois, Champaign (August 20--Ocotber 1, 1978).

    Dr. Joann Moser, Curator of Collections at the University of Iowa Museum of Art, is Guest Curator of Atelier 17. The exhibition was installed at The Brooklyn Museum by Gene Baro, Consultative Curator of Prints and Drawings, and Ripley Albright, Assistant Curator.

    *Atelier 17. Catalogue and essay by Dr. Joann Moser; complete checklist; notes/bibliography; 32 illustrations, 12 in full color. Published 1977 by Elvehjem Art Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Soft-bound, $15.00 (plus $1.50 handling and mailing).

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1971 - 1988. 1978, 008-9.
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