Roberto Matta (1911-2002) was the most famous Chilean artist, recognized for his unique fusion of Abstract Expressionism and Surrealism. He graduated from the Catholic University of Santiago in 1932 with a degree in Architecture and Interior Design before moving to Paris to work in Le Corbusier. While traveling throughout Europe, Matta was introduced to Salvador Dalí in Madrid, Spain. His friendship with Dalí, opened the door for new possibilities and he was encouraged by Dalí to show his drawings to one of the founders of Surrealism: Andre Breton. Matta completely abandoned architecture by 1936 and started pursuing a career as an artist.
Once connected to the Surrealist movement in 1937, he created works with new dimensions, organic forms and an added element of social and political critique. This sociopolitical commentary in his work caused for him to break from the typical canon of Surrealist ideas. While Matta did follow many of the same Surrealist themes like automatism, the blend of abstract expressionism allowed him to explore his subconscious thoughts through evolving spaces and figures.
Matta is considered to be one of the great masters of Surrealism and a major force in the advancement of Abstract Expressionism. Notable artists that were influenced by Matta include Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Peter Busa. Contemporary Marcel Duchamp considered Matta to be “the profoundest painter of his generation.”