Born in Santiago, Chile, painter and printmaker Roberto Sebastián Matta Echaurren (1911 – 2002) was an important artist of the Surrealist movement whose work also influenced the Abstract Expressionists. Matta studied architecture and interior design at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. In 1933, he began to work for the architect Le Corbusier in Paris where he became increasingly interested in drawing and painting.  He left the field of architecture to begin his career in art and, while traveling in Europe, he met key figures in the Surrealist movement, such as Salvador Dalí and André Breton, who invited him to join their group.

After moving to New York City in 1938, Matta began creating a series of large oil paintings that he called “inscapes.” Using a process of automatic painting that involved building up and selectively wiping away layers of pigment, Matta created eerie, fantastic landscapes that represented maps of the unconscious mind. These paintings brought Matta much acclaim and even the accomplished and influential Marcel Duchamp called Matta “the profoundest painter of his generation.” In the late 1940s, Matta broke with the Surrealists and his later work was more political in nature.

Although best known for his paintings, Matta also created many colorful and complex etchings and lithographs. His graphic work included the illustration of a variety of books. Arcane 17 (1944) by André Breton and Les Damnations (1966) by Joyce Mansour are examples of the books of poetry to which he contributed. Matta also illustrated books that featured his own writing, such as Le Coeur est un Oeil (1981). During the latter part of his career he executed a number of suites of prints to illustrate classic works. Notable among these are Arthur Rimbaud’s Une saison en enfer (1978) with ten etchings by Matta and El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha de Matta (1991), based on Cervantes’ novel, for which Matta completed 91 lithographs.


Books with Roberto Matta available from Boreas Fine Art:

[Matta, Roberto and Gerard Charrière (binding) ]  Ritsos, Yannis.  Jacque Lacarrière, translator.  GrécitéMontpelier: Fata Morgana.  1968.



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