Lot 23
  • 23

Roberto Matta

300,000 - 500,000 EUR
bidding is closed


  • Roberto Matta
  • Les Séparés vivants
    (also known as Funfural)
  • titled twice and dated Les Separés vivants, 1945-1946 (along the back stretcher bar)
  • oil on canvas
  • 101,6 x 152,4 cm; 40 x 60 in.


Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York
Acquavella Gallery, New York
Private collection (sale: Christie's, New York, 29-29 May 2009, lot 32)
Purchase at the above sale by the current owner


New York, Pierre Matisse Gallery, 1946
Yokohama, Yokohama Museum of Art, Masson et Matta. Les Deux Univers, 1994, no. 21 (illustrated in color)

Catalogue Note

During this period I received a sort of shock when I realized what was happening during the war, and the concentration camps which deepened my awareness. I tried not to draw upon my own personal morphology but rather a social morphology. By using totemic images related to a situation that was much more historical [...], I tried to shift from intimate images [...] to cultural expressions of totemic objects, a civilization. [...] Battlefields of feelings and ideas, struggling to see if something could come out of these battles." (Roberto Matta, interview with Max Kozloff, 1965). Matta's words reveal the influence of the Second World War on his art, from the horror of the Nazi camps to the devastation provoked by the atomic bomb in Hiroshima.

The paintings produced at the end of the war, among which Les Séparés vivants is one of the finest, aim to create a new representation of humanity, a "new image of man" that finds its source in primitive art and the psyche. In relation to the Morphologies psychologiques painted at the beginning of the 1940s, the post-war works are characterized by a more incisive line that echoes humanity's suffering and fear. At the same time, Matta's painting shows a new gestural and chromatic freedom, reflecting the artist's aspirations after this somber period. As the press of the time pointed out; "Matta's palpitating harmonies play around these symbolic forms, the lyricism of the tones in total contrast with the terror that emanates from them. These figures are nude and brutal, because he has dissected all anatomy and emotion from them" (in Art News, April 1945). Of flamboyant composition and unprecedented dynamism, Les Séparés vivants inaugurates a new era in Matta's art.