The Vertigo of Eros

Roberto Matta-The Vertigo of Eros 1944

In the late thirties the Chilean Surrealist artist Roberto Matta painted a series of large canvases that he called inscapes: imaginary landscapes that were a projection of the internal psyche. Using the techniques of surrealist automatism and displaying his interest in non-Euclidean geometry Matta’s inscapes are vast, visionary cosmic dramas.

Along with many other Surrealists he emigrated to the United States in 1939 to escape WWII and would live there until 1948. While in New York he would, along with  his fellow Surrealist Arshile Gorky (see Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia) influence an emerging generation of young American artists, the Abstract Expressionists, including the pioneers Robert Motherwell and Jackson Pollack. Matta would be expelled from the Surrealists due to his affair with Gorky’s wife, which the Surrealist believed contributed to Gorky’s tragic suicide.

The cosmic dimension of Matta’s painting evokes certain elements of science fiction. His influence can definitely be felt and is in fact name-checked (along with many other Surrealist artists) by the great English writer J.G Ballard, who said that science fiction should concentrate, not on outer space, but on the inner space of the mind.

37 thoughts on “The Vertigo of Eros

  1. Oh I love this. It’s so complex and infinite. I see why it feels science fiction-y. The space just left of center feels like it goes on forever. Plus you know I enjoy examining all the little details in works like this. Fantastic!

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  2. I can see the sci fi element. Kinda looks like orbits. But I’m surprised he was kicked out for an affair- thought that was par for the course with these guys. 😋

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    1. You are right it was par for the course. I think it was more the timing, Gorky had been on a horrible run of bad luck and it was like kicking him when he was down. Matta painted in the same style afterwards and he was still friendly with the surrealists, and even showed with them after (I think).Breton loved expelling people.

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  3. Oh, I have a hard time remembering the names but I just re-read about Gorky. That was indeed bad timing. He had a hard life too. I suspect if it was just the affair, he would have handled it better. Wow, kinda feel like Matta should have been a better friend…

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    1. Sorry but I have to agree with you if your house looks like this at Christmas that is definitely weird. I also love the idea regarding inner space. J G Ballard is one of my favourite writers and his writing is even weirder than your house at Christmas time. Thank you for the lovely comments

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      1. You see that figure in the lower right, that is like a bag or an opened box. Everything is green, red and pink! A bunch of edgy shapes like stars and strings spinning around. It is like Eros came in on Christmas and made a dizzy mess of everything! I LOVE it!! This artist is obviously a genius.

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  4. Mr. Cake, the title of Matta’s painting is perfect, doesn’t love feel just this way? Especially when you need to hold on to something to walk across the room so you don’t go into a multidimensional orbit. So much of his work is almost unimaginable, so far out there, one can easily become transfixed while view his work. Wonderful post. ~ Miss Cranes

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    1. Thank you Miss Cranes I love the title in fact I think I will steal it one day! Well i have shown the Surrealist influence on the abstract expressionists I think someone with the necessary knowledge and more importantly love should write about this important American movement. Matta is definitely one of the finest painters to engage in Surrealism and his vision was certainly out there. Glad you enjoyed.

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  5. Gorgeous painting: and I love the ‘inner spaces of the mind’ … our dialog with our time and place must also include that dark, secretive space, flooded with darkness and potential enlightenment that we carry inside ourselves.

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