b. 1883, Warsaw, Poland
d. 1970, Paris, France
Henri Hayden was a Polish painter known for his early Cubist works and later for his colorful landscapes. He was born into a family of wine distributors, and as a young man he simultaneously pursued studies at the Polytechnic School and the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. After demonstrating prodigious artistic talent, he abandoned his engineering studies and moved to Paris; in 1908, he began taking classes at the avant-garde Académie de la Palette. His first works in Paris were similar to Cézanne’s in style: landscapes and figures modulated with flattened, faceted brushstrokes and scrapes of a palette knife. However, after befriending the Montparnasse Cubists—Juan Gris, Pablo Picasso, Jacques Lipchitz, and Jean Metzinger—his works gravitated increasingly towards Cubism. Juan Gris introduced Hayden to the gallerist Léonce Rosenberg who, starting in 1915, officially represented him. By the mid-1920s, however, Hayden had abandoned Cubism in favor of a more naturalistic painting style.
With the start of World War II, he was forced into hiding. He fled first to Mougins, where he was reunited with his old friend Robert Delaunay, and then to Roussillon, where he befriended Samuel Beckett. When he returned to Paris at the end of the war, he was devastated to find that the Germans had ransacked his entire studio and stolen all of his artworks. With his entire oeuvre lost, Hayden's recognition in the art world was severely damaged, and it was only later in his life that his work began to gain attention once more.