The River Mom

The River Mom

1952
Artist
Roberto Sebastián Antonio Matta Echaurren, Chilean, 1911-2002
Born: Región Metropolitana, Chile
Work Locations: Chile, Peru, Panama, United States, Italy
Country
Chile
painting
Tempera on canvas
Gift of Vance H. and Anne O. Kirkland
1982.650

Roberto Sebastián Antonio Matta Echaurren
The River Mom, 1952
Tempera on canvas
Gift of Vance H. and Anne O. Kirkland, 1982.650

Dimensions
height: 78 in, 198.1200 cm; width: 117 in, 297.1800 cm
Inscription
"Matta 1942 The River Mom" BR
Department
Modern and Contemporary Art
Collection
Modern and Contemporary Art
Roberto Sebastian Antonio Matta Echaurren The River Mom 1952 Tempera on canvas H: 78in; W: 117in Gift of Vance H. and Anne O. Kirkland, 1982.650 Unfamiliar shapes defined by energetic outlines explode over a vast expanse of the unfathomable, misty gray space in Matta’s The River Mom. Arranged in powerful diagonals, these forms can be described but not comprehended; they suggest many interpretations, none of them certain. Some see in it an apocalyptic prophecy of the atomic age, following the World War II bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (Matta painted The River Mom in 1952.) Others, taking the clue suggested in the title, find a visual metaphor for birth and life, seeing the thrusting red-and-black passage as a birth canal, and the black circle flanked by expressive ellipses as the explosion of a new life. However, not even the artist tried to “explain” his works, maintaining that they were the result of “psychic automatism,” the art of freeing the mind to let the hand express unconscious images and imaginings.
Exhibition History
  • "Earth and Fire"--Denver Art Museum, 6/11/2011 - 8/5/2011

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