Helen Elizabeth Phillips Biography

Helen Elizabeth Phillips




Helen Elizabeth Phillips Hayter, printmaker and sculptor, was born in Fresno, California on March 3, 1913. She studied at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco between 1932 and 1936 and was a student of Ralph Stackpole and Gottardo Piazzoni. In 1936 she was awarded a Phelan Traveling Fellowship and was given $2000.00 to travel to and study in Paris. While in Paris, she discovered Atelier 17, an experimental intaglio workshop founded by Stanley William Hayter. Phillips returned to the United States in 1938 and Hayter moved Atelier 17 to New York City in 1940. They married in 1940 and had two sons, August and Julian.

Upon her return from Paris she was commissioned to sculpt the stone figures for the Fountain of Western Waters for the Golden Gate International Exposition of 1939, which was held on Treasure Island in the bay off San Francisco. Phillips and Hayter moved to New York City in 1941 where she again worked at Atelier 17. She had her first solo exhibition in 1942 at the New School for Social Research and the first of several joint exhibitions with Hayter at the Sidney Janis Gallery beginning in 1949. Her sculpture was included in Nicholas Calas' landmark exhibition Bloomflumes 1947. Phillips taught sculpture at the California Art Institute in 1948 and 1960. In 1967 she severely injured her back while moving a sculpture Alabaster Column and it took eight years for her to recover.

Phillips' work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally and is included in the book Modern Sculpture by Carola G. Walker. Her work is represented in collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Bank of America World Headquarters, de Young Museum, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum, Dallas Museum of Contemporary Art, Princeton University Art Museum, and the Albright-Knox Museum.

Helen Phillips died in New York City on January 22, 1995.