Artists & Designers

Roberto Matta (1911-2002)

Born in Santiago de Chile in 1911, Roberto Matta's academic education was completed in Chile before he moved to Paris in 1933. His architectural training qualified him for a draughtsman's position in Le Corbusier's studio from 1935-37. However, during this time, a Spanish poet, Federico García Lorca, introduced Matta to Salvador Dalí and the Surrealists, which caused him to move toward painting rather than architecture. His early works were constructed from automatic writing (where the hand writes the disconnected and random ideas thrown up by the unconscious mind), a method developed by the European Surrealists in the 1920s. Contact in 1939 with Arshile Gorky, an Armenian-American Surrealist, paved the way for Matta's large format pictures.

The structure and creatures depicted in these works were inspired by a mystical belief in the essential unity of all cosmic events, which easily merges mythology's powers with our own technological age. Matta's mid-1940 fascination with mechanical precision and the speed of automated processes was artistically conceived in his works, where man was represented as a creature who had completely identified with his machines. This "man-machine" was then placed in opposition to auto-generative apparatus that are engaged in frenzied activity. Matta lived in New York during these years and then moved to Rome from 1950-54. His subsequent years were spent exhibiting and traveling throughout the world. During the 1950s and 1960s, his art was filled with a luminous quality and sharply defined pictorial objects: cosmonauts, strange hybrid creatures, half-human, half-insect beings—which are all suspended in the midst of endless space.

Excerpt from

DMA unpublished material, n.d.

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