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Classified as a School of Paris artist, Henri Hayden worked mostly in the genres of still life and landscape.
Born in Warsaw, Hayden was one of the many Eastern European artists who gravitated towards Paris. Moving there in 1907, he briefly studied at the art school La Palette, and went on to paint in Brittany most summers from 1909 to 1919.
Hayden’s first one-man show was at the Galerie Druet in Paris, 1911. During this time Cézanne became a strong influence, as reflected in The Chess Players at La Rotonde - a significant work by Hayden shown at the Salon des Indépendants in 1914. From 1915 to 1921, Hayden participated in the Cubist movement, and this continued to impact his style until 1922. His friend Juan Gris led him to the dealer Léonce Rosenberg, and through him he became acquainted with Jean Metzinger, Gino Severini, Pablo Picasso, and Henri Matisse. While his most famous painting The Three Musicians - now in the National Museum of Modern Art, Paris - is indebted to Cubism, Hayden eventually reacted against the avant-garde movement, returning to the direct study of nature.
From 1922, Hayden’s oeuvre became more figurative, proving immensely successful with dealers and the public. Hayden’s work gained increasing recognition from around 1952, when it showed signs of returning towards Cubism, with the landscapes and still-life’s both becoming both more simplified and composed compared to his previous Cubist works. Never fussy or laboured, they combine a new richness of colour with lyrical melancholy. At the end of his life, Hayden bought a country house near La Ferté-sous-Jouarre, where he painted many landscapes of the surrounding area; this time was marked by meditation and a purity of vision. Hayden died in Paris in 1970.