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Roberto Matta

Surrealism, Automatism

(Santiago - Chile, 1911 – Civitavecchia - Italy, 2002)

Roberto Matta

Roberto Matta studied architecture at Santiago de Chile but rapidly abandoned this discipline. In 1931, he went to Europe and settled in France where he worked with Le Corbusier in his studio between 1934 and 1935. He continued his learning in London with Walter Gropius and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, founder and director of Bauhaus. At the end of the 1930’s, Matta travelled through Europe. Then he devoted his time to paint and draw, inspired by surrealist, especially Salvador Dali and André Breton.

Matta became a leader in the use of “Automatism”, an innovative method to bring forth the subconscious thoughts in order to use them in artistic creation.

At the request of Marcel Duchamp, Matta went to New York during the Second World War, where is creativity is fully inspired by American Abstract Expressionism. He exposed for the first time in United States in Julien Levy Gallery, specialised in surrealism. He gave conferences to New School of Social Research and received many American young artists in his studio, including Jackson Pollock.

He became interested to pre-Columbian culture in 1941 after a trip to Mexico.  He continues to work and exhibit in New York during 1940’s, then returns in Europe in 1947 and breaks with surrealism. His first monographic exhibition is in September 1947 in Paris.

The 1950’s mark a change in his work. The painter turns to contemporary socio-political themes, always influenced by his surrealist roots. In 1964, he painted Powers of disorder, in homage to Julian Grimau, executed in Spain. In 1968, Roberto Matta participated to first Cultural Congress in Havana (Cuba). He participated actively to events of Mai 68 in France.

Roberto Matta also uses others artistic mediums, as engraving and bronze sculpture. He received many prize during his life. Important exhibitions of his work are organised all around the world, in United States, Japan and Europe. His work is visible in museum collections all around in the whole world. 

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