Roberto Matta (Santiago de Chile, 1911 – Civitavecchia, 2002) studied Architecture at the Catholic University of Chile and in the 1930s he worked with Le Corbusier in Paris. In 1935 he travelled to Madrid, where he was in touch with Neruda, García Lorca, Alberti and other poets from the '27 Gener...read more
Roberto Matta (Santiago de Chile, 1911 – Civitavecchia, 2002) studied Architecture at the Catholic University of Chile and in the 1930s he worked with Le Corbusier in Paris. In 1935 he travelled to Madrid, where he was in touch with Neruda, García Lorca, Alberti and other poets from the '27 Generation, Manuel Ángeles Ortiz and Dalí (whom he contacted via a recommendation by Lorca, and who put him in touch with Breton). He began to paint in 1938, becoming part of the surrealist movement. In 1939, when the Second World War broke out, he went to New York, where, with a recommendation from Le Corbusier, he "should have worked" with Gropius on the New Bauhaus in Chicago. However, he was drawn to painting, which he cultivated through contact with some of the most famous European émigrés (Duchamp, Breton, Ernst, Gorki, Esteban Francés, etc.) and leading figures on the American scene such as Pollock and Motherwell. In 1940 his work was shown in the A la luz negra (In Black Light) exhibition at the Julien Levy gallery, and in 1942 he held his first individual exhibition: The Earth is a Man (Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York). He stayed in New York until 1948 and in 1949 he moved to Rome, remaining there until 1954. He then spent a period in Sicily and from there travelled to France, where he lived until 1967, when he returned to Italy, settling in Tarquinia, near Rome, with frequent visits to Paris, London and New York. Damián Bayón referred to two periods in his painting. A "cosmic" period in which "there is always an element of the first day of creation": the canvases are flooded with forces in turmoil, unstable, fluid energy in germination. And another, dating from the 1970s, in which "the figurative system is to become more complicated as the result of a relative ordering".
In 1971 he travelled to Chile, invited by President Salvador Allende, to work on collective murals with young people in the Ramona Parra Brigade. The same year the French journal Connaissance des Arts rated him as one of the world's ten best painters. In 1985 the Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris organised a major retrospective of his work. In 1990 he returned to Paris, also spending periods in Italy. He received the National Art Award from the government of Chile, and in November the National Museum of Fine Art in Santiago de Chile held a retrospective of his work.
He died in 2002 in the Italian port of Civitavecchia, to the north of Rome, although he was buried in Tarquinia, in a crypt located under his house. Roberto Matta was recognised as the last surrealist and one of the twentieth century's most important artists.
AA.VV: Granada de fondo: colección de arte contemporáneo. Diputación de Granada, Granada, Granada Provincial Council, 2003 (catalogue)Read less