Roberto Matta


Roberto Sebastián Antonio Matta Echaurren (1911-2002) was one of Chile's best-known painters and a seminal figure in 20th century abstract expressionist and surrealist art. Born in Santiago, he initially studied architecture at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in Santiago, but became disillusioned with this occupation and left for Paris in 1933.

During the 1940s and 1950s, the disturbing state of world politics was reflected in Matta's work, with the canvases becoming busy with images of electrical machinery and distressed figures. Matta divided his life between Europe and South America during the 1950s and 1960s, successfully combining the political and the semi-abstract in epic surreal canvases. He believed that art and poetry can change lives, and was very involved in the social movements of the 1960s and 1970s.  

Matta’s works are presently held in the collections of the Tate Gallery in London, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice.

Related Works

  • Transvanguardian artist Mimmo Paldino invokes a similar surrealist sense of play in his allegorical sculptures and prints. View his work.

  • Jaune Quick-To-See Smith’s gestural technique energizes her paintings, much like Matta’s own style of dynamic mark-making. View her work.