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Lot 86: MATTA

Est: £100,000 GBP - £150,000 GBPSold:
Sotheby'sFebruary 08, 2005London, United Kingdom

Item Overview


Executed in 1938.

pencil and coloured crayons on paper


32 by 49.5cm.<br><br>12 5/8 by 19 1/2 in.

Artist or Maker




New York, Robert Elkon Gallery, Twentieth Century Masters, 1973, no. 24
New York, Robert Elkon Gallery, Twentieth Century Masters on Paper, 1976, no. 19, illustrated in the catalogue
New York, Maxwell Davidson Gallery, Matta. The Early Years. A Selection of Paintings and Drawings from the Years 1937-1947, 1981, no. 1, illustrated in the catalogue
Waltham, Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Matta. The First Decade, 1982, no. 4, illustrated in the catalogue
Paris, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Matta, 1985, no. 9, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Tokyo, Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Matta - Drawings, 1986, no. 1, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Bochum, Museum Bochum, Matta. Zeichnungen, 1937-1988, 1988, no. 12
Paris, Galerie Daniel Malingue, Matta. 1936-1944. Début d'un nouveau monde, 2004, illustrated in colour in the catalogue


Germana Ferrari (ed.), Matta. Entretiens morphologiques. Notebook no. 1, 1936-1944, London, 1987, illustrated in colour p. 76


Robert Elkon, New York
Private Collection
Galerie Daniel Malingue, Paris
Acquired from the above by the present owner in the late 1980s


The present work was executed while Matta was living in Paris, a pivotal time in the development of his art, during which he came under the increasing influence of the Surrealists. Having received a degree in architecture in Chile, he settled in Paris in 1935 and worked in the studio of Le Corbusier. Soon, however, he gave up his work as an architect and devoted himself to experimenting with collage and drawings. During the late 1930s, Matta worked almost exclusively with coloured crayons, creating vivid drawings such as the present work. Once he freed himself from the constraints imposed by the rigid architectural training, Matta was able to release a remarkable energy and creativity that resulted in the mesmerising works such as the present drawing.

Sans titre
presents the viewer with a dream-like world populated by strange, fantastic forms executed in vibrant red, yellow, green and blue tones. These biomorphic shapes occupy a stage-like setting, which at the same time appears to be a flat plane and an acute receding perspective. Whist ridding his style of the stiff architectural influences, Matta was able to retain a great facility in depicting multidimensional space that allowed him to transfer his fantastic vision onto a two-dimensional medium. It was during this period that he began to experiment with ways of drawing objects in physical transformation in spaces that exploded the confines of the conventional three dimensions. He embraced ideas of growth, process, time and simultaneity, and created celestial worlds that depict the phenomenon of conception, gestation, birth, life and death. The present work reflects Matta's mastery in appropriating the vocabulary of surrealist art - including unexpected juxtapositions, organic forms and automatism - and transforming this vocabulary into a unique pictorial language. Matta's quest to capture metamorphosis and to depict objects in transformation in the same space-time has remained a preoccupation throughout his prolific career.

Auction Details

German and Austrian Art, Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale and Surrealist Art.

February 08, 2005, 12:00 AM EST

34-35 New Bond Street, London, LDN, W1A 2AA, UK