Friday, May 15, 2015

Roberto Matta

Three Figures
oil on burlap
139.7 x 188 cm
M.T. Abraham Foundation, Paris, France
Fair use

Roberto Sebastian Antonio Matta Echaurren (1911-2002), better known as Roberto Matta, was one of Chile's best-known painters and a seminal figure in 20th century abstract expressionist and surrealist art.

He was of Spanish, Basque and French descent. Born in Santiago, Chile, he completed an architecture degree at the Catholic University in Santiago (1931) and moved to Paris in 1933 to work for the influential architect and city planner Le Corbusier. While working in the architect’s studio, he became increasingly interested in painting. Further, his friendships with the avant-garde artists such as Gertrude Stein, Marcel Duchamp, Walter Gropius, Salvador Dali, Federico Garcia Lorca, Andre Breton, and others stimulated his interest in the Surrealist movement, and by 1936 he had abandoned architecture as a career. He produced illustrations and articles for Surrealist journals such as Minotaure.

His stylistic development was rapid. By the time he moved to New York City at age 28, he had created a distinctive and visionary vocabulary of biomorphic forms swirling about an eerie and angst-ridden setting. His multidimensional imaginary world was fraught with violent conflict and agitated movement; throughout his life he combined the Surrealists’ interest in psychic automatism with a predilection for vaguely figural elements caught in states of flux and crisis. In later years, political activism occupied much of his energies.