Lot 46
  • 46

Roberto Matta

120,000 - 180,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Roberto Matta
  • Azul
  • signed Matta and dated 37 (lower left)
  • gouache on paper
  • 50.2 by 32.7cm.
  • 19 3/4 by 12 7/8 in.


Marc Pearlbinder, New York

Richard Feigen Gallery, New York

Feigen Palmer Gallery, Los Angeles

Julian Levy, New York

Private Collection, New York

Sale: Christie's, New York, 24th November 1998, lot 32

Purchased at the above sale by the present owner


New York, Achim Moeller Fine Art, An Exhibition Inspired by Paul Cummings, 1997-98

Santiago de Chile, Fundación Telefónica Sala de Arte, Retrospectiva de Roberto Matta, 2000

Rio de Janeiro, Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Surrealismo, 2001, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Catalogue Note

In his early twenties, Roberto Matta travelled from his native Chile to Paris to work in Le Corbusier’s studio. Trained as an architect, Matta soon found himself immersed in the maelstrom of artistic creativity of 1930s Europe. Within a few years he met Federico García Lorca, Salvador Dalí, Walter Gropius, Lázló Moholy-Nagy and Marcel Duchamp. In 1937 he was employed by the architects of the Spanish Pavilion at the Paris International Exhibition, where Picasso’s Guernica, Miró’s El campesino catalán en rebeldía and Calder’s sculpture Mercury Fountain were displayed. In his own work he examined the surrealist liaison between the waking state and the world of dreams, developing a world he termed Psychological Morphology or Inscape, describing an adventure into an alternative reality with its own space-time. Like Tanguy, Ernst and Miró, Matta experimented with, and ultimately developed his own form of automatism, the automatic drawing or painting achieved by the unconscious movement of the artist’s hand, pencil or brush working faster than the mind can think.

Azul dates from 1937, the year he joined the Surrealist group. Composed of biomorphic elements, executed primarily in a rich, deep blue heightened with white, this composition evokes the work Matta would continue to develop in the years to come both in oil and on paper. Along with many other Surrealists, Matta moved to New York at the outbreak of World War II. First exhibiting with the Julien Levy Gallery and later at Pierre Matisse, Matta burst onto the New York scene with the same energy he had brought to Europe. Julien Levy describes their first meeting: ‘He appeared in my gallery confident, exuberant, and mercurial and produced a portfolio of explosive crayon drawings, vowing he would complete enough canvases for an exhibition in the next two months if I were interested. At first glance the drawings were winning though incomprehensible. Matta seemed to have a powerful obsession with space and could make it vast and inhuman […]. Translating his perspective into limitless voids past the horizon and beyond the vanishing point, Matta seems to have arrived at his own strange outer world’ (J. Levy, Memoir of an Art Gallery, New York, 1977, p. 247).