Matta

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.
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Matta

Matta (Roberto Sebastián Antonio Matta Echaurren) (rōbĕr´sābästyän´ äntōn´mät´ĕkhär´rĕn), 1911?–2002, Chilean painter who left his native country for Paris (1935) and thereafter worked in Europe and the United States, b. Santiago. Matta was an exponent of surrealism in the group around André Breton in the late 1930s. His pictures present volatile forms engulfed in cosmic upheaval; their strange effects have been compared to science fiction. After the mid-1940s his canvases portray the interactions of various mutant creatures. He cultivated "accidents" of automatic drawing and spilled pigment in an attempt to spontaneously access the unconscious. From 1939 to 1948 Matta lived and worked in New York. There his ideas on abstraction profoundly influenced his friend Arshile Gorky and were important to such exponents of abstract expressionism as Pollock, Rothko, Baziotes, and Motherwell. It was thus that his concepts helped to develop a new and distinctive language of abstract painting in America. Matta's work is included in many public collections, e.g., Let's Phosphoresce by Intellection, II in the Nelson Gallery–Atkins Museum, Kansas City, Mo.

See studies by W. Rubin (1957), I. Clurman (1970), and E. T. A. Smith et al. (2001).

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