Ca' Pesaro

Ca' Pesaro

Exhibition ROBERTO MATTA 1911-2002


Roberto Matta

25 October 2024 – 23 March 2025
Venice, Ca’ Pesaro – International Gallery of Modern Art

Curated by
Norman Rosenthal, Dawn Ades, Elisabetta Barisoni
With the collaboration of Matta Archives



“Painting always has one foot in architecture, one foot in dream.”

Roberto Sebastián Antonio Matta Echaurren (Santiago de Chile, 1911 – Civitavecchia, 2002) was one of the 20th century’s most important artists, yet received surprisingly little recognition. Inspired by two extraordinary masterpieces by the artist kept in Ca’ Pesaro, the exhibition displays his abilities as a painter as well as revealing the scope and scale of his work and thought. A passionate painter and draughtsman, he also worked in other materials, including clay, wood and metal.

He initially studied architecture in his native Chile, then joined Le Corbusier’s atelier in Paris, choosing to term himself an architect. One of his last projects was the construction of a house on stilts built out of the bodywork of Fiat 500s. In his paintings he explored and expressed the most extraordinary range of ideas and modes of knowledge, scientific, cultural and philosophical. He was also a deeply political artist, decisively rejecting socialist realism and steadily defending democratic and humanitarian values. His paintings are not just of great historical importance; they also speak to younger contemporary artists for numerous reasons.

He held closely to Surrealism, which gave him the freedom to develop his own very distinctive visual language through automatism. Together with his friend Gordon Onslow-Ford he was the last exponent of Surrealism before World War II, and was welcomed by André Breton for revitalising the movement.
In the 1940s he exerted a crucial influence on American Abstract Expressionists, although without getting involved in the dispute between abstraction and figuration. This is also one of the reasons why he remains one of the most significant artists of our time, in which the boundary between these categories is constantly infringed.

“I think that first of all we need an image of society, an image of the economy, to help us see where we are. Just as we need use maps to see where we are in space, we need to find a way to represent our position in history…” (interview with Matta, 1984).

After the major retrospective in 1985 at the Centre Pompidou, curated by William Rubin and Dominique Bozo, only one major exhibition has been devoted to Matta in this century, in Hamburg in 2012-2013. The exhibition scheduled at Ca’ Pesaro will engage with various themes enabling us to explore the multiplicity and depth of Matta’s output of paintings, drawings and sculptures and revealing his many-sided creativity, ranging from architecture to science, literature, linguistics, political issues, mathematics, humour and eroticism.


Admission to the exhibition from 25 October 2024 to 23 March 2025, with the Museum’s hours and ticket.