The Women of Atelier 17: Craft, Creativity, and Modernist Printmaking

My proposed book The Women of Atelier 17: Craft, Creativity, and Modernist Printmaking follows nine women, who worked at the avant-garde printmaking workshop Atelier 17 in New York between 1940 and 1955. These trailblazing artists made modernist prints that defied gender norms, and they struggled to convince skeptical critics that their works were serious artistic innovations rather than mere craft.

Stanley William Hayter (1901-1988) opened Atelier 17 in 1927 on Paris’s Left Bank as an informal printmaking workshop. Faced with the threat of Europe’s growing conflict, he relocated the studio to New York City in 1940 where it remained until 1955. Across its three successive locations in Greenwich Village, Atelier 17 became a laboratory that facilitated women artists’ exposure to and eventual practice of modernist styles, including abstraction, surrealism, and expressionism. Making prints at Atelier 17 served as a conduit through which female artists realized extraordinary professional achievements and impacted the direction of postwar sculpture, fiber art, post minimalism, and Pattern and Decoration. For many artists, affiliation with Atelier 17 also catalyzed a strong feminist consciousness decades before the women’s art movement of the 1970s. 

The nine women artists who are central figures within this book's five thematic chapters--Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010), Minna Citron (1896-1991), Worden Day (1912-1986), Dorothy Dehner (1901-1994), Sue Fuller (1914-2006), Jan Gelb (1906-1978), Alice Trumbull Mason (1904-1971), Louise Nevelson (1899-1988), and Anne Ryan (1889-1954)--bent technical rules of printmaking and explored uncharted aesthetic terrain with their etchings, engravings, and woodcuts.