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Roberto Matta

Matta: Five Decades of Painting, Works from the Collections of Federica and Ramuntcho Matta

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About Roberto Matta

Roberto Sebastián Antonio Matta Echaurren, “Matta,” (b. 1911, Santiago, Chile; d. 2002, Civitavecchia, Italy), was born in Santiago, Chile. Matta’s first one-artist exhibition was held at the Julian Levy Gallery, New York in 1940, and since that time, nearly 400 solo exhibitions of his work have been mounted, including MoMA’s 1957 retrospective, which traveled to the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (1957) and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (1958). Matta is considered one of the great Surrealists and is widely acclaimed for his critical—and catalytic—influence on the development of Abstract Expressionism and on his contemporaries, including Jackson Pollock, Arshile Gorky, Mark Rothko and Robert Motherwell.

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Press Release

  • Matta: Five Decades of Painting, Works from the Collections of Federica Matta and Ramuntcho Matta
    PaceWildenstein is pleased to present Matta: Five Decades of Painting, Works from the Collections of Federica Matta and Ramuntcho Matta, on view from January 30 through February 28, 2009 at 32 East 57th Street, New York City, and is honored to announce the exclusive representation of the holdings of Federica Matta and Ramuntcho Matta. A catalogue with an essay written by Martica Sawin, critic and art historian, and the author of Surrealism in Exile and The Beginning of the New York School, will accompany the exhibition. A public opening will be held January 29th from 6-8 pm at 32 East 57th Street. Matta: Five Decades of Painting, Works from the Collections of Federica Matta and Ramuntcho Matta is the first major exhibition of Matta’s work in New York since a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in 1957. The approximately fifteen oil paintings on view span fifty years of Matta’s career. Chilean-born Matta is perhaps best known for his association with the Surrealist movement. As Sawin notes, “Matta played a catalytic role in the development of what was described in the mid-1940s as Abstract Surrealism,” a precursor of Abstract Expressionism—and his technical skills, innovative style, and charismatic personality earned him a prominent place within the Surrealist circle. Invited by André Breton to join the Surrealists in 1937, Matta’s vibrant, socially-charged adaptation of Surrealism would go on to influence artists such as Robert Motherwell, Gordon Onslow-Ford, Arshile Gorky, William Baziotes and Jackson Pollock, among others. “The function of art,” Matta once said, “is to unveil the enormous economic, cultural, and emotional forces that materially interact in our lives and that constitute the real space in which we live.” Pushing beyond the Surrealists’ typical Freudian-inspired work, Matta sought to create an art that was not purely introspective, but that instead spoke to a broader social context. Painting, for Matta, held the potential to illuminate “emotional structure,” and was a means to perceive “how, when and where emotions act and react,” in the end allowing the viewer to begin to understand the reality of the world around them. Throughout his career, Matta maintained the core of Breton’s Surrealism—which was, as Sawin explains in her catalogue essay, “a distrust of the rational and the desire to effect a revolution in consciousness.” From his earlier landscapes of the tumultuous Chilean geography to his portrayal of the horrific realities of World War II, the racial violence in the United States in the 1960s, and the war in Vietnam, Matta’s energized canvases reflect a profound awareness of his surroundings and a unique ability to grasp and portray the realities of our shared social history. Roberto Sebastian Antonio Matta Echaurren (b. 1911-d. 2002), “Matta,” was born in Santiago, Chile in 1911. He earned a degree in architecture from the Universidad Católica of Santiago in 1932. Matta apprenticed under Le Corbusier, working on projects such as the iconic proposal for Ville Radieuse and travelled extensively in Europe (1935-37). André Breton invited Matta to join the Surrealist circle in 1937 and Matta would participate in the Paris Exposicion International du Surrealism the following year. In 1939 Matta left Paris for New York, where his increasingly biomorphic paintings quickly attracted¬¬¬ the attention of the New York School. Following a break with the Surrealists, Matta moved to Rome (1948), where he resided until 1955. He lived the rest of his life in Paris, London, and Tarquinia (an Etruscan city, north of Rome, in the Lazio region of Italy), yet maintained strong ties to Latin America. Matta’s involvement in the social movements of the 1960s and 1970s included his strong support of president Salvador Allende in Chile. In 1957, the Museum of Modern Art honored Matta with a retrospective that later traveled to the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (1957) and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (1958). Matta’s first one-artist exhibition was held at the Julian Levy Gallery, New York in 1940, and since that time, nearly 400 solo exhibitions of his work have been mounted. Significant retrospectives include: the de Young Museum, San Francisco (1963); the Museo Civico, Bologna (1963), which travelled to four museums through 1964 (Museum des 20. Jahrhunderts, Vienna; Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels); Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lucerne (1965); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, (1966-67); Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna, Palazzo dei Diamanti, Ferrara (1973). In 1983, the Sala d’Exposicions, Ajuntament de València, Spain and Palau Meca, Ajuntament de Barcelona, Spain, mounted a retrospective that traveled simultaneously with Matta: El Verbo America to: Palacio de Cristal, Madrid; Museo de Bellas Artes, Bilbao; Canary Islands (1984); Museo de Bellas Artes, Havana, (1984); and Taormina, Italy (1985). The Centre Georges Pompidou, Musée National d’art Moderne, Paris, mounted a major retrospective of Matta’s work in 1985 and in 1999 the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid presented Matta, which later traveled to the Fundació Caixa de Catalunya, Barcelona. More recently, in 2002, exhibitions of Matta’s work have gone on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (which travelled to the Miami Art Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago) as well as at the Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain, Geneva. Matta’s work has also been included in many significant group shows, including the Biennale di Venezia in 1948, 1964, 1968, 1974, and 1978; Documenta in 1945, 1959, 1964, and 1977; the Bienal de São Paulo in 1955 and 1965, and the XIII Biennale de Paris in 1985. Matta’s work is held in more than sixty public collections worldwide, including The Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; The Art Institute of Chicago; The Cleveland Art Museum; de Young Museum, San Francisco; The Haifa Museum of Art; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Iwaki City Art Museum, Japan; The Menil Collection, Houston; Miami Art Museum; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre National d’Art et de Culture Georges Pompidou, Paris; Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires; Museo de Artes Visuales, Santiago; Museo Tamayo, Mexico City; Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona; Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo; Museu Nacional de Bellas Artes, Santiago; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; The Seattle Art Museum, Washington; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Tate Collections, London; Tel Aviv Museum of Art; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, Massachusetts. For more information on Matta: Five Decades of Painting, Works from the Collections of Federica Matta and Ramuntcho Matta, please contact Jennifer Benz Joy at jjoy@pacewildenstein.com or Lauren Staub at lstaub@pacewildenstein.com or call 212.421.3292.
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Catalogues

MATTA: FIVE DECADES OF PAINTING

Martica Sawin

2009. PaceWildenstein. Paperback

54 pages: 6 black and white illustrations, 23 color illustrations; 10 ¾ x 9 3/16

9781930743960