Matta Echaurren, Roberto Sebastián Antonio (1912–2002)

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Matta Echaurren, Roberto Sebastián Antonio (1912–2002)

Roberto Sebastián Antonio Matta Echaurren was a Chilean painter and printmaker. Known simply as "Matta," he was born in Santiago, Chile, and received his early education from French Jesuits. He went on to earn an architectural degree in 1933 from the Catholic University in Santiago, Chile. He took drawing classes in Santiago at the Academia de Bellas Artes. Matta left Chile in 1935 for Paris, where he worked for the architect Le Corbusier until 1937, by which time he had become a member of the surrealist group. He lived and worked in New York from 1939 to 1948. Shunned by the artistic community upon his return to Paris, he went to Rome. In the late 1950s he slowly regained acceptance in Paris, where, having become a French citizen, he spent part of each year. Matta resisted being labeled a Latin American artist; rather, he saw himself in a universal context, as one who integrated into his art elements of the many cultures with which he came into contact. Throughout the 1960s his work had mainly political and spiritual themes and involved such subjects as the Vietnam War and the civil rights struggle in the United States. In 1968 he was a keynote speaker at the Havana Cultural Congress in Cuba, where he discussed the relationship between art and revolution. He had a retrospective at London's Hayward Gallery in 1977. Eight years later the Pompidou Center in Paris launched another exhibition based on his life's work. In his old age, he maintained residences in Paris, London, Milan, and Tarquinia, Italy. He died there on 23 November 2002.

See alsoArt: The Twentieth Century; Santiago, Chile


Valerie Fletcher, Crosscurrents of Modernism: Four Latin American Pioneers (1992), pp. 228-287.

Additional Bibliography

Escallón, Ana María, and Patricia Cepeda. Roberto Matta: El arquitecto del Surrealismo. Washington, DC: Art Museum of the Americas, 2003.

Fer, Briony; Betti-Sue Hertz; Justo Pastor Mellado; and Anthony Vidler. Transmission: The Art of Matta and Gordon Matta-Clark. San Diego, CA: San Diego Museum of Art, 2006.

Garcia Yello, Maria. Matta. Córdoba, Spain: Fundación Provincial de Artes Plásticas "Rafael Botí," 2004.

Oyarzún R., Pablo. Tentativas sobre Matta. Santiago, Chile: Delirio Poético Ediciones, 2002.

                              Katherine Clark Hudgens