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Friday, April 25, 2014

Matta, Roberto


Three Figures
c.1958
oil on burlap
139.7 x 188 cm
location unknown
-Fair use-

Three Figures contains the classic elements of a Matta's early figurative painting: linear drawing, dynamic gestures, erotic symbolism and a neutral spatial environment. His exaggerated anatomical images, graceful and often infused with a comic zest were serious expressions of profound personal and social issues.

Roberto Antonio Sebastian Matta Echaurren (1911-2002), better known as Roberto Matta, was born in Santiago, Chile and was educated there as an architect and interior designer. He was one of Chile's best-known painters and a seminal figure in 20th century abstract expressionist and surrealist art.

In 1933, at the age of 22, he became a Merchant Marine and left his birthplace, Chile, for Paris. He worked there for famed-architect Lecorbusier from 1933-1934. Then, at the end of 1934, he visited Spain, where he met the poet and playwright Federico Garcia Lorca, who through a letter, introduced Matta to Salvador Dali. Dali encouraged Matta to show some of his drawings to Andre Breton.

It was Breton who provided the major spur to Matta's direction in art, encouraging his work and introducing him to the leading members of the Paris Surrealist movement. He joined the Surrealist movement in 1937 and produced illustrations and articles for Surrealist journals. During this period he was introduced to the work of many prominent contemporary European artists, such as Pablo Picasso and Marcel Duchamp. The first true flowering of Matta's own art came in 1938, when he moved from drawing to the oil painting for which he is best known. This period coincided with his emigration to the United States, where he lived until 1948. His connections with Breton's surrealist movement were severed following a private disagreement and was expelled in 1947 from the surrealists, but by this time his own name was becoming widely known. He divided his life between Europe and South America during the 1950s and 1960s.

Matta believed that art and poetry can change lives, and was very involved in the social movements of the 1960s and 1970s. He was a strong supporter of Salvador Allende's socialist government in Chile until Pinochet's military coup in 1973. Throughout his life, he worked with many different types of media, including ceramic, photography, and video production. He died in Civitavecchia, Italy.