Roberto Antonio Sebastian Matta Echaurren

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Roberto Antonio Sebastian Matta Echaurren

Birthdate: (91)
Birthplace: Santiago, Chile
Death: November 23, 2002 (91)
Civitavecchia, Lazio, Italy
Immediate Family:

Son of Roberto Matta Tagle and Mercedes Echaurren Herboso
Husband of <private> Faranda; <private> Pope; <private> Ferrari; <private> Clark Alpert and Patricia O'Connors
Father of <private> Matta Faranda; <private> Matta Pope; <private> Matta Pope; <private> Matta Ferrari; Gordon Matta-Clark and 1 other
Brother of Mario Matta Echaurren; Sergio Matta Echaurren and <private> Matta Echaurren

Occupation: abstract expressionist and surrealist artist
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Roberto Antonio Sebastian Matta Echaurren

fue un arquitecto, pintor, filósofo y poeta chileno. Considerado el último de los representantes del surrealismo. Matta tenía ascendencia vasca.2

Luego de titularse de arquitecto, partió a Europa. En el viejo continente conoció a artistas de la talla de Salvador Dalí, René Magritte, André Breton y Le Corbusier.

Precisamente fue Breton quien estimuló al artista chileno, valorando su trabajo e introduciéndolo en el círculo de los principales miembros del movimiento surrealista de París. Matta produjo ilustraciones y artículos para el periódico surrealista Minotaure. Durante este período trabó amistad con prominentes artistas contemporáneos europeos como Picasso y Marcel Duchamp.

Un momento decisivo para la carrera artística de Matta se produce en 1938 cuando pasa del dibujo a la pintura en óleo, por la cual es muy famoso. Este período coincide con su viaje y residencia hasta 1948 en los Estados Unidos. Sus primeras pinturas, entre las que destaca Invasión nocturna, dieron una indicación de la ruta artística tomada por el pintor.

Roberto Antonio Sebastián Matta Echaurren, 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.

Born in Santiago, he initially studied architecture at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in Santiago, but became disillusioned with this occupation and left for Paris in 1933. His travels led him to meet artists such as René Magritte, Salvador Dalí, André Breton, and Le Corbusier. Matta was of Spanish, Basque and French descent.

It was Breton who provided the major spur to the Chilean's direction in art, encouraging his work and introducing him to the leading members of the Paris Surrealist movement. Matta produced illustrations and articles for Surrealist journals such as Minotaure. 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 early paintings, such as Invasion of the Night, give an indication of the work he would continue, with diffuse light patterns and bold lines on a featureless background. This is also the period of the "inscape" series, and the closely related "psychological morphologies". Prof. Claude Cernuschi (see Boston College Matta exhibition external link below) writes, "Matta's key ambition to represent and evoke the human psyche in visual form was filtered through the writings of Freud and the psychoanalytic view of the mind as a three-dimensional space: the 'inscape'." According to the essay on Matta in Crosscurrents of Modernism (see references below), the inscapes' evocative forms "are visual analogies for the artist's psyche" (p. 241). During the 1940s and 1950s, the disturbing state of world politics found reflection in Matta's work, with the canvases becoming busy with images of electrical machinery and distressed figures. The addition of clay to Matta's paintings in the early 1960s lent an added dimension to the distortions.

In his art Matta creates new dimensions in a blend of organic and cosmic lifeforms (see biomorphism). He was one of the first artists to take this abstract leap.

Matta's connections with Breton's surrealist movement were severed when a private disagreement led to his expulsion from the group, 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, successfully combining the political and the semi-abstract in epic surreal canvases. Matta believed that art and poetry can change the lives of people, and was very involved in the social movements of the 1960s and 1970s. He was a strong supporter of the socialist government of president Salvador Allende in Chile. A 4x24 meter mural of his entitled The First Goal of the Chilean People, was painted over with 16 coats of paint by the military regime of Augusto Pinochet following their violent overthrow of Salvador Allende in 1973. In 2005 the mural was discovered by local officials. In 2008 the mural was completely restored at a cost of $43,000, and is displayed today in Santiago at the La Granja city hall.

Throughout his life, Matta worked with many different types of media, including ceramic, photography, and video production.

Matta died in Civitavecchia, Italy on 23 November 2002. The Matta Estate is represented by The Pace Gallery, New York.

Matta is the father of the artist Gordon Matta-Clark, and Ramuntcho Matta.

Selected list of works

Redness of Lead, 1943.

Psychological Morphology, ca. 1938.

Le Dauphin de la Memoire, 1984.

A Grave Situation, 1946.

La Source du Calme, 2002. This was Matta's final work.

   * Sick Flesh (ca. 1932-1933)
   * The Clown (1934)
   * Untitled (Payasa) (1935)
   * Panama and Wet Sheets (1936)
   * La Forêt, Snail’s Trace, Composición Azul, Scénario No. 1: Succion Panique du Soleil and Morphology (1937)
   * The Red Sun, Space Travel (Star Travel), To Both of You, Crucifiction (Croix Fiction), several works titled Psychological Morphology and Morphology of Desire (1938)
   * more works titled Psychological Morphology and Water (1939)
   * Dark Light (1940)
   * Invasion of the Night, Ecouter Vivre, Théorie de l’Arbre, Composition Abstraite, The Initiation (Origine d’un Extrême) and Foeu (1941)
   * The Hanged Man, The End of Everything, The Disasters of Mysticism and The Apples we Know (1942)
   * L’Oeyx, El Día es un Atentado and Redness of Lead (1943)
   * Cover art for the final issue of the magazine VVV, To Escape the Absolute, Et At It, Le Glaive et la Parole and Poing d’Hurlement (1944)
   * La Femme Affamée, Abstracto, The Heart Players and Rêve ou Morte (1945)
   * Le Pélerin du Doute and A Grave Situation (1946)
   * Accidentalité, Metamatician # 12 and Black Mirror (1947)
   * Wound Interrogation and The Prophet (1948)
   * La Revécue and Woman Looked At (1949)
   * C’Ontra Vosotvos Asesinon de Palomas (1950)
   * Ne Songe Plus à Fuir and Les Roses Sont Belles (1951)
   * Pecador Justificado and Eclosion (1952)
   * Morning on Earth, Hills a Poppin, The Murder of the Rosenbergs, L’Hosticier and L’Apetite de Primer (1953)
   * Abrir los Brazos Como se Abren los Ojos, Bud Sucker, The Chess Player, L’Atout and Tados Juntos en la Tierra (1954)
   * Le Long Pont, Spearcing of the Grain, L’Engin dans l’Éminence and Intervision (1955)
   * Banale de Venise, Heart Malitte, Fleur de Midi and Le Pianiste (1956)
   * Le Point d’Ombre, L’Impencible, The And of Think and Ciel Volante (1957)
   * La Chasse Spirituelle (started in 1957), Être Cible Nous Monde, L’Etang de No, The Infancy of Concentration, Les Eviteurs and Le Courier (1958)
   * Un Soleil à Qui Sait Reunir, Les Faiseurs du Neant, The Clan and L’Impensable (Grand Personage) (1959)
   * Couple IV (started in 1959), Être Atout (five part suite), Vers l’Universe, Ciudad Cósmica and Design of Intuition (1960)
   * Vivir Enfrentando las Flechas (1961)
   * Les Moyens du Creafeur, Claustrophobic Vaincue and Mal de Terre (1962)
   * Eve Vielle (1963)
   * Éros Semens (triptych, started in 1962) and La Luz del Proscrito (started in 1963) (1964)
   * La Térre Uni (1965)


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Roberto Antonio Sebastian Matta Echaurren's Timeline

November 11, 1911
Santiago, Chile
June 22, 1943
Age 31
New York, NY, USA
June 22, 1943
Age 31
November 23, 2002
Age 91
Civitavecchia, Lazio, Italy