MATTA Roberto

Roberto Matta | Original prints, lithographs, etchings and illustrated books


"I am interested only in the unknown and I work for my own astonishment"

(Roberto Matta) 



Roberto Sebastián Antonio Matta Echaurren (Santiago, Chile, 11 November 1911 - Civitavecchia, 23 November 2002) was a Chilean architect and painter.

Matta was born in Santiago de Chile on 11 November 1911 from a family of Spanish, Basque and French descent [1]. After studying architecture, in 1934 he moved to Paris, where he worked with Le Corbusier and came into contact with intellectuals such as Rafael Alberti and Federico García Lorca. He knows André Breton and Salvador Dalí and adheres to surrealism, developing a painting focused on psychological morphologies. Breton wrote of him in 1944: "Matta is the one who most faithfully keeps his own star, which is perhaps on the best road to reach the supreme secret: the control of fire". [2] He is constantly on the move, from Scandinavia, where he meets Alvar Aalto, in London, where he meets Henry Moore, Roland Penrose and René Magritte. In Venice he met De Chirico. [3]

At the beginning of the Second World War, he fled to New York along with many other avant-garde artists. Here he exercises a decisive influence on some young artists such as Jackson Pollock and Arshile Gorky. He was dismissed from the Surrealist group (but later re-admitted), accused of indirectly provoking Gorky's suicide because of his relationship with the wife of the Armenian painter. He moved to Rome in 1949 and became an important link between abstract expressionism and the nascent Italian abstractionism. Leaving Rome in 1954, he moved to Paris, maintaining a close relationship with Italy. From the sixties he elected Tarquinia as his parallel residence, settling in a former convent of the Passionist friars.

Between 1973 and 1976 he designed and built, with the painter and sculptor Bruno Elisei, the Autoapocalipse, a house built by recycling old cars, as a provocation against consumerism. The first two modules are exhibited for the first time in Tarquinia (Church of S. Maria in Castello) and in Naples (Campi Flegrei), then completed (three modules) is exhibited in Bologna (Modern Art Gallery), Terni (piazza of the City), La Spezia (Allende center), Florence (ramps of San Niccolò-Forte Belvedere). [4] In 1985 the Center Georges Pompidou in Paris dedicated a major retrospective, and in the same year Chris Marker dedicated a documentary to him, Matta '85.

In the early nineties, Matta designed a series of five 10-meter-high metal obelisks-totem-antennas, which she named Cosmo-Now [5], with the intent of being installed in each of the continents as a symbol of harmony and planetary peace; the location chosen for Europe was the Italian town of Gubbio, linked to Francesco d'Assisi. His works are exhibited in the most important museums in the world (London, New York, Venice, Chicago, Rome, Washington, Paris, Tokyo).

He is the father of the twins Gordon Matta-Clark, 1943-1978 and Batan Matta-Clark 1943-1976, as well as Pablo Echaurren, born in 1951, of Federica Matta, born in 1956 of Ramuntcho Matta, born in 1960 and of Alisée Matta, born in 1970.