When Letterio Calapai joined Stanley William Hayter’s renowned workshop Atelier 17 in 1946, he was already in his mid-forties with five one-man painting shows under his belt. Yet the philosophies and printmaking techniques he encountered there would affect the method and appearance of his art-making for the rest of his life. After 1946, Letterio Calapai was decidedly a printmaker.
Stanley Hayter first opened Atelier 17 in 1927 in his Paris studio, teaching new printmaking techniques to artists such as Max Ernst and Joan Miró. In 1940, due
to the threat of war, Hayter moved the studio to New York where it would operate until 1955 before returning to Paris. In the heyday of the workshop’s exciting New York years, Calapai discovered the endless possibilities of representation afforded by intaglio printmaking.
Along with the new method, he also became deeply influenced by Hayter’s abstract modernist vision which can be easily seen in his abrupt shift from a realist to abstract style. At the same time that he was absorbing the influences of the master
and his students at Atelier 17, Calapai was also looking at the Social Realists, German Expressionism and Post-Expressionism. He stated, “All of these exposures have, I believe been integrated into my work as it became more abstract and imaginative.”
This exhibition showcases Calapai's prints that explore the legacy of Atelier 17's experimental printmaking techniques and principles, including intaglio, automatism, biomorphism, and surrealism.
The progression of Atelier 17’s influence on Calapai can now be seen at a new show at Childs Gallery, Boston through December 3.