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Roberto Matta (Chilean, 1911–2002)
LOT ID: 79577
Damné par l'arc-en-ciel (pl. 5), from the Saison en Enfer Portfolio, 1977

Etching / Engraving, Aquatint, on Japon Paper
26 х 20 in. (66.04 x 50.8 cm.)
Signed, and numbered in pencil lower margin
Edition 100
Foundry/Publisher Edizioni Poligrafia, Barcelona, Spain
Lot description
Sheet size is 26 x 20 inches (66 x 50.8 cm). Framed size is 28.4 x 22.5 inches (72.4 x 57.2 cm).

This 1977 print shows Roberto Matta working in a style informed by the automatism and biomorphic figuration of Surrealism. In this and other works, the artist fuses organic and non-organic forms to show the creative-destructive cycle of the interface between humans and machines, particularly in the context of war. Matta sought to “make the invisible visible” by suppressing the conscious mind and allowing subconscious reality to surface; often, the results of this process were eroticized scenes of abjection and horror.

Roberto Matta (Chilean, 1911-2002) was a painter, printmaker, and draughtsman closely associated with the Abstract Expressionist and Surrealist movements. Matta moved to Paris in 1933 to work for architect Le Corbusier. The next year, he traveled to Madrid, where he was introduced to Salvador Dali (Spanish, 1904–1989) and, in turn, Andre Breton (French, 1896–1966). Breton and Dali connected Matta to the Surrealist movement, which he officially joined in 1937. In 1938, Matta left Europe for New York City. Eventually he shifted his creative focus from drawings to the oil paintings for which he would become well-known. Matta's connections to the Surrealist movement were severed over a disagreement that concerned Arshile Gorky (Armenian, 1904–1948) and his family. He was accused of having a relationship with Gorky's wife that led Gorky to commit suicide. This led to Matta’s expulsion from the Surrealist movement. During the 1950s and 1960s, the artist divided his time between South America and Europe. His paintings engaged political themes with a semi-abstract style. He tended to paint on vast canvases and created a mural entitled “The First Goal of the Chilean People” for Salvador Allende, the president of Chile at the time. Major surveys of Matta’s work include shows at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1955), and in Stockholm (1958), Bologna (1963), Mexico City (1964), Berlin (1970), Paris (1971), London (1977), and Tokyo (1986).

Selected Public Collections:
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
Tate Modern, London, England
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN
Damné par l'arc-en-ciel (pl. 5), from the Saison en Enfer Portfolio by Roberto Matta
  • Damné par l'arc-en-ciel (pl. 5), from the Saison en Enfer Portfolio by Roberto Matta
  • Damné par l'arc-en-ciel (pl. 5), from the Saison en Enfer Portfolio by Roberto Matta
  • Damné par l'arc-en-ciel (pl. 5), from the Saison en Enfer Portfolio by Roberto Matta
  • Damné par l'arc-en-ciel (pl. 5), from the Saison en Enfer Portfolio by Roberto Matta
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