25.1 cm x 32.7 cm (9 7/8 in. x 12 7/8 in.)
Roberto Sebastián Antonio Matta Echaurren
(Santiago de Chile, 1911 - 2002, Tarquinia, Italy)
Latin America, Chilean
Medium and Support:
Crayon and pencil on paper
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Archer M. Huntington Museum Fund, 1980
Roberto Matta was one of the international pioneers of Surrealism: his first paintings of the 1930s, which he called “inscapes” or internal landscapes of the mind, caught the attention of the Surrealists in Paris, who briefly adopted him as a member of that movement. After Matta fled Paris in 1939 to the United States, he participated in the development of the free and gestural style that was to become known as Abstract Expressionism. Although this drawing is undated, it is probably from that period in his career—the late 1940s or early 1950s. It is characteristic of Matta’s compositions, which he typically centered on a vortex contained at its edges with the sketchy suggestion of fractured architectural planes. Viewing this work, it is not clear whether we are looking at a scene of cosmic forces or at a representation of psychological turmoil. Matta was a master of dynamic composition, perhaps one of the greatest in the twentieth century, and even in this relatively modest drawing, we have a clear sense of confronting a universe of complex forces that the paper is barely able to contain.