Atelier 17, New York
The Atelier 17 workshop had a lasting influence on 20th-century printmaking, due in large part to the range of significant artists who took advantage of its facilities and the experimental approach it fostered. The shop was founded in 1927 in Paris by the English artist Stanley William Hayter (1901–1988), who transferred its operations to New York during World War II.
In New York, Atelier 17 attracted not only American artists, such as Louise Nevelson, Jackson Pollock, and David Smith, but also a range of international exiles, including Max Ernst, André Masson, Yves Tanguy, and, most notably, Joan Miró, whom Bourgeois befriended there. She first came to the shop in 1946, attracted by its artistic community and by the technical opportunities it provided. She said her French language skills were particularly appreciated by the non-English-speaking artists, yet she felt intimidated by Hayter himself, who she felt was a perfectionist printmaker.
At Atelier 17, Bourgeois delved into engraving, a specialty of the shop, and felt encouraged to experiment with soft ground etching, color stenciling, and a scorper technique of embossing. She also gave free rein to her practice of constantly revising compositions through versions and states. In all, she produced nearly 400 individual printed sheets during her time at Atelier 17, but she also continued to work on these prints at home, making use of the small press she had there. After her transition to sculpture in the later 1940s, Bourgeois left printmaking behind until much later in her life.