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ROBERTO MATTA Damas y Caballeros.
Pencil and color crayons on cream wove paper, circa 1964. 245x325 mm; 9 1/2x13 inches. Annotated in pencil, lower recto.
Ex-collection Pace Gallery, Columbus, Ohio, 1965.
Matta (1911-2002) was born in Chile, but his surrealist ambitions were informed by the friendships he had with leading Abstract Expressionists and Surrealists, such as Arshile Gorky, René Magritte, Salvador Dalí and Le Corbusier. At the beginning of Matta's artistic career, after he had left the Merchant Marines, he survived primarily through providing illustrations for Surrealist art journals (such as Minotaure). This undoubtedly informed his later work, as his output reflects both his attention to detail in creating full, almost narrative scenes and his focus on the psyche. His most psychologically poignant series, the Inscape series, was created in the late 1930s, and experimented with the concept of showing the artist's inner psyche as a landscape. The circle of surrealist artists severed ties with Matta after Gorky's suicide, apparently precipitated by an affair between Gorky's wife and Matta.
Matta's later artistic output reveals an increased concern over current events and world politics; during the 1950s and 1960s he traveled between South America and Europe, showing his large semi-abstract canvases that combined both the political and psychological elements. These works frequently featured imaginary biomorphic forms in multi-dimensional landscapes that appear to swirl and struggle with tension. His highly imaginative, psychologically fraught oeuvre is among some of the most recognizable Surrealist imagery of the 20th century.