The last surrealist
The Chilean architect mingled with the world’s most select intellectual circles and exhibited his pictorial work worldwide.
Monday, August 23, 2010
Roberto Matta, en la inauguración de su última gran exposición retrospectiva, en 1999 en el Museo Reina Sofía de Madrid. (Gentileza del Comité Centenario Matta 11-11-11).
A plastic artist recognized globally as the "last surrealist", Roberto Matta Echaurren was born on 11 November, 1911 in Santiago and studied Architecture at the Universidad Católica de Chile.
In the 1930s, he travelled around Paris, Madrid, London and New York, where he worked with Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, but he also became familiar with the experiences of Federico Garcia Lorca, Rafael Alberti, Gabriela Mistral, and José Martí.
It was thanks to British sculptor Gordon Onslow Ford that he encountered painting, yet he defined his style after spending time with the surrealists Salvador Dalí and André Breton, and later with Pablo Picasso, Yves Tanguy and Marcel Duchamp.
At the end of that decade, he embraced oil painting, a technique that would make him world-renowned and would get him invitations to show his work in important cultural spaces such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA).
In the middle of the past century, Matta broke away from the surrealist movement and visited Latin America to become impregnated with the colors and iconography of its original peoples, which reflected in his cosmic and apocalyptic creations.
Due to his open sympathy with the Government of President Salvador Allende, he left his country and did not come back until the return of democracy in 1990, when the Chilean State awarded him the National Art Prize.
In his later years, he received the Prince of Asturias Award in Spain (1992), the Praemium Imperiale in Japan (1995) and the Monte Carlo International Art Prize (1997), among others.
Living in Italy since 1967, Roberto Matta died in the city of Civitavecchia in the outskirts of Rome, on 23 November 2002.