La Catalyseur

Accession Number

La Catalyseur

Roberto Matta

Artist Nationality

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
color etching and aquatint on Arches paper

8 3/16 in x 6 5/8 in (20.8 cm x 16.83 cm);12 15/16 in x 9 15/16 in (32.86 cm x 25.24 cm);19 3/8 in x 14 3/8 in (49.21 cm x 36.51 cm)

Credit Line
Museum Purchase

Label copy
Matta provided this plate for L’Extrême Occidental by writer Gherasim Luca; other artists contributing etchings were Jean (Hans) Arp, Victor Brauner, Max Ernst, Jacques Hérold, Wifredo Lam, and Dorothéa Tanning. The plates were printed in the Atelier Georges Visat in Paris. The work was published by Editions Meyer in Lausanne.
Label copy from exhibition "Dreamscapes: The Surrealist Impulse," August 22 - October 25, 1998

Subject matter
Part of a portfolio of seven prints with text by the Surrealist theorist and poet Ghérasim Luca, Matta's print was included alongside works by fellow Surrealists Hans (Jean) Arp, Victor Brauner, Max Ernst, Hacques Hérold, Wilfredo Lam, and Dorothea Tanning. The Chilean artist joined the Surrealist movement around 1937, after meeting Salvador Dali and Andre Breton in Paris. As with this print, Matta's work reflected the subconscious mind that Freud wrote about extensively; and, like other Surrealists, he used automatic artistic processes in order to free his art from premeditation. The subject matter of the print is likely allied with Matta's larger concerens about politics, particularly in Latin American in the 1960s and into 1970s. In his accompanying apocalyptic text originally written in 1954, Luca wrote that the catalyst would print the end of civilization. 

Physical Description
This print has an abstract design with thick black circular lines. There are blue circles in bottom right corner of the print and a red, yellow, and orange abstract shape in center of print. The print is signed (l.r.) "Matta" and numbered (l.l.) "64/125" in pencil.

Primary Object Classification

Collection Area
Modern and Contemporary

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Abstract (fine arts style)
Latin American
modern and contemporary art
portfolios (groups of works)