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Biography for Roberto Matta (1911 - 2002)

Chilean-born artist Roberto Matta was an international figure whose worldview represented a synthesis of European, American, and Latin American cultures. As a member of the Surrealist movement and an early mentor to several Abstract Expressionists, Matta broke with both groups to pursue a highly personal artistic vision. His mature work blended abstraction, figuration, and multi-dimensional spaces into complex, cosmic landscapes. Matta's long and prolific career was defined by a strong social conscience and an intense exploration of his internal and external worlds.

Matta broke with the conventions of the Surrealist movement by adding a dimension of social and political awareness to his work.
Matta often supplemented an aesthetic of pure abstraction with elements of figuration and precisely rendered, though fantastically conceived, three-dimensional space.
Matta's exploration of the unconscious mind through a symbolic language of abstract forms greatly influenced the early development Abstract Expressionism.

Roberto Matta (Chilean, 1911–2002) was a sketch artist and painter known for his work in the Abstract Expressionist and Surrealist movements during the 20th century. He was born Roberto Sebastian Antonio Matta Echaurren on November 11, 1911, in Santiago, Chile. The artist studied architecture and interior design at the Ponificia Universidad Catolica de Chile.

In 1933, Matta moved to Paris, France, to work for famed architect Le Corbusier. In 1934, he traveled to Madrid, Spain. There he was introduced to Salvador Dalí, who encouraged Matta to show his drawings to André Breton. Breton and Dalí connected Matta to the Surrealist movement, which he officially joined in 1937. Matta had twin sons who were both artists, Gordon Matta-Clark and Sebastian Matta-Clark. He also had a son who is a composer, Ramuntcho Matta, and a daughter who is a painter, Federica Matta.

In 1938, Matta left Europe and went to New York City. During this time, his artwork also evolved from drawings to oil paintings, which is what he is best known for. For the next decade, the artist lived and worked in the United States, creating his Inscape series. Matta's connections to the Surrealist movement were severed over a disagreement that concerned Arshile Gorky and his family. He was accused of having a relationship with Gorky's wife that led Gorky to commit suicide. This led to his expulsion from the Surrealist movement, but by this time Matta had already made a name for himself.

During the 1950s and 1960s, the artist divided his time between South America and Europe. His paintings combined politics with semi-Abstract Art. He tended to paint on vast canvases and created a mural entitled The First Goal of the Chilean People for Salvador Allende, the president of Chile at the time. Some of Matta's best-known work include The Road to Heaven, Storming Water River and Redness of Blue, Polimorfologia, Wound Interrogation and The Prophet, Dark Light, Lieberos, Nude Hiding in the Forest and Verginosamente, and La Terre Uni. Matta died on November 23, 2002, in Civiavecchia, Italy.

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