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Roberto Matta

Roberto Matta

(1912 - 2002)
Born: Santiago, Chile
Style: Surrealism
Famous Works:
  • Morphology of Desire (1938)
  • Wound Interrogation (1948)
  • Elle Loge la Folie (1970)
Roberto Matta was a constantly evolving artistic force, connected to the Surrealists and the Abstract Expressionists, and able to draw from his many influences to produce unique and often innovative works. Matta originally studied as an architect in his hometown of Santiago, Chile, but eventually followed a desire for exploration that would become a fixture in his life. Joining the Merchant Marine gave Matta the opportunity to travel, notably to Paris, where he worked in the studio of Le Corbusier. By 1937, Matta had made a series of connections that would lead him to Salvador Dali, André Breton, and into the fold of the Surrealists. Matta spent the next two years establishing himself within the Surrealist movement, meanwhile finding inspiration from masters of the avant-garde, such as Pablo Picasso and Marcel Duchamp. This period also marks Matta's transition from drawing to oil painting. In his early oils, Matta used various abstract forms and bold colors to represent subconscious exploration. These early works foreshadowed the ways that Matta would later bring the depths of his mind onto the surface of canvas. The advent of World War II forced many artists to flee Europe and settle in the United States; Matta was among them. In New York City, Roberto Matta's affability and artistic prowess allowed him to befriend many artists who were on the cutting edge of Abstract Expressionism, including Peter Busa, Arshile Gorky, and Jackson Pollock. Matta began to achieve success in the art world in the 1940s, but his harmonious relationships with the Surrealists and Abstract Expressionists would be short lived. Partly in response to the war, Matta began incorporating social narrative into his paintings, eschewing the fleeting manifestations of the subconscious for the very real and often sinister actions of man. After being unceremoniously booted from the Surrealist group, Roberto Matta once again poured himself into geographical and artistic exploration. Matta traveled extensively; his destinations included Africa, Europe and Latin America. The social consciousness that inspired Matta's work in the 40s persisted, and he continued to address injustice, war, and societal change for the remainder of his life. Roberto Matta's art was informed by many styles and experiences, but there is clear cohesion throughout his work, evidence of a unique artistic vision supplemented with a sincere desire to understand the world.
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