MATTA (1911-2002)
MATTA (1911-2002)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE LONDON COLLECTION
MATTA (1911-2002)

The Adventures of a Biomorphic Couple

MATTA (1911-2002)
The Adventures of a Biomorphic Couple
charcoal and white and red chalk on paper laid down on Masonite
29 x 35 1/2 in. (73.7 x 90.3 cm.)
Executed in New York in 1943-1944
Galerie du Dragon [Max Clarac-Sérou & Cécilia Ayala], Paris.
The Mayor Gallery, London, by 2004.
Danny Katz, London, by whom acquired from the above; his sale, Sotheby's, London, 12 November 2013, lot 101.
Crane Kalman Gallery, London, by whom acquired at the above sale.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Exh. cat., L’Amérique Latin et le Surréalisme, Bochum, 1993, no. 40 (illustrated).
Nimes, Carré d’Art, Musée d’Art Contemporain, Matta: Dessins 1937 - 1989, October - December 1990.
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
Further details
Matta Archives have confirmed the authenticity of this work.

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Lot Essay

‘The spaces in Matta’s pictures in the mid-forties seem more definite, but are filled with pitfalls and ambiguities… His spaces now are populated by strange anthropomorphic beings, animistic machines, Duchampian mechanical monsters. His pictures had to become larger, because these terrifying beings need space to carry out their hallucinatory actions and horrifying demonology’ (P. Selz, ‘Matta’, in exh. cat., Roberto Matta, La Jolla, California, 1980, p. 8).

The Adventures of a Biomorphic Couple was executed in 1944 and belongs to a series of works Matta executed during the winter of 1943-44 in New York. Matta had been living in New York for almost half a decade by the time he executed the present work. He had been one of the first artists to leave France for the United States after the outbreak of the Second World War, having been encouraged by his friend Marcel Duchamp. Matta travelled across the Atlantic on the same ship as Yves Tanguy, a fellow Surrealist. While living in the Village, Matta became a key figure in the avant garde: as a fluent English speaker, he was able to communicate both with the Surrealists who increasingly congregated in New York, many of whom had limited linguistic abilities, and with the New York School that was emerging there. The ideas of the Surrealists, largely communicated through Matta, would come to have a determining effect on this new wave of American artists. Matta experienced deep anxiety during the war years, and his apocalyptic visions were manifested in the drawings he produced during that time, including The Adventures of a Biomorphic Couple.

An exquisite draughtsman, Matta was able through the manipulation of familiar forms to express the feeling of desperation many people experienced during the war years. The scarcely recognisable, yet evocative anthropomorphic form in the present work resembles the shapes in the seminal tryptic Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion Bacon executed the same year, now at the Tate Britain, in particular the open-mouth figure on the right panel.

The thick lines and sharp angles have a dramatic impact, yet the nature of morphology is to suggest the potential for metamorphosis and transformative change, and latent within Matta's harrowing image is the artist's humanist belief in the renewal of civilization and the resilience of human life.

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