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  • Provenance

    San Luca Galleria d'Arte, Bologna

  • Literature

    Edizioni Galleria San Luca, ed., Matta, 1976, Bologna, 1976, p. 48 no. 57 (illustrated in black and white)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Manzalba (1970) is a characteristic example of Nobel Prize-winning painter Roberto Sebastian Matta’s mature style. Born in 1911 in Chile, in his early years Matta was a student of architecture under modernist masters Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius before abandoning blueprints for the canvas after befriending Salvador Dali and Andre Breton in the late 1930s. By 1970 he had long since cut ties with the official purveyors of surrealism and established himself as a master artist in his own right, but the influence of Breton’s milieu had a longstanding influence on his paintings, Manzalba included. Channeling a combination of visions of cosmic creation and subconscious desires, Matta here presents an ambiguous biomorphic form suggestive of exotic flora against a murky background of muddy green and watery blue haze. The curvilinear shapes of the figure’s various branches and appendages reveals both the influence of architecture in his attention to structure and an obsession with movement and process inherited from artistic forefathers such as Marcel Duchamp, combined to create a mysterious otherworldly landscape of striking originality.

  • Artist Biography


    Chilean • 1911 - 2002

    After graduating from university in Santiago in 1935 with a degree in architecture, Roberto Matta traveled to Europe where he met André Breton, the founder of the Surrealist movement in Europe. In 1938, he began painting and moved to the United States for ten years. During this period he sought to evoke the human psyche in his work, inspired by Freudian psychoanalysis. Matta's works became increasingly dominated by a socio-political element, which broke from the conventions of Surrealism.

    Matta was also a seminal figure in Abstract Expressionism but broke away from this too to develop a highly personal artistic vision. His mature works blend abstraction with elements of figuration and fantastically-conceived, multi-dimensional space. He was heavily involved in the social movements of the 1960s and '70s and a strong supporter of Salvador Allende's socialist government.

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Oil on canvas.

65 1/2 x 80 1/2 in. (166.4 x 204.5 cm).
Signed and titled “Manzalba” lower right.This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by the Archives de L'oeuvre de Matta, cat. no. 70/41.

£35,000 - 45,000 

Sold for £72,000

The Marino Golinelli Collection

13 October 2007, 1pm