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Francisco Matto - Portraits, Totems and Graphisms 1999 Autumn



Francisco Matto - Portraits, Totems and Graphisms, 1911 - 1995

An artist of humble materials, Pre-Columbian scholar and collector, aristocrat of the Taller Torres-García artists and gifted portrayer of the feminine. This exhibition celebrates Matto's portraits and VENUS totems.

"If we don't attain the elemental shapes we will never be able to arrive at the mystery." Matto

"These words, imbued with deep significance and expressed with his characteristic candor and simplicity, are the key to Matto's art and his being. Every artist develops a way of working that will best allow him to give concrete form to his vision. Matto's system resembles the discipline of Zen: the repetition of a prayer or an action that produces a state of introspection in which intuition and perceptual powers are heightened. Concentrating on the most important lines and volumes, slowly and methodically he would isolate the "elemental forms" of reality. As in the sculptures of Brancusi, the most comprehensive contemporary exponent of purist forms, the same theme is also repeated over and over, each new version differing subtly from the previous one."
Cecilia de Torres, excerpted from the Buenos Aires catalogue essay, Galería Palatina, March, 1999



Robert C. Morgan Review - Courtesy of Review Magazine (February 1, 2000)

Francisco Matto

b. 1911, Montevideo, Uruguay - d. 1995, Montevideo, Uruguay

A founding member of the Taller Torres-García, Matto studied painting as a child before meeting Joaquín Torres-García, the atelier's founder in 1939.  Following this encounter and encouraged by the creative environment at the Taller, Matto's artistic production shifted from his early Surrealist-influenced work to paintings and sculptures with markedly orthogonal compositions; these works were often executed on humble material supports such as cardboard and found wood pieces. 

At the age of 21, Matto traveled to Tierra del Fuego and acquired the first Pre-Columbian pieces of what was to become a major collection and an important influence on his art.  In 1962, Matto opened his collection of Amerindian art to the public. The Museum of Pre-Columbian Art housed ceramics, textiles and sculpture from Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela. 

The Central Bank of Uruguay commissioned Matto to design a silver coin for the F.A.O. (United Nations Organization for Agriculture and Food).  It was in circulation in 1969 and won the first prize from the Gesellschaft für Internationale Geldgeschichte, an international numismatic association based in Frankfurt, Germany.

In 1982, Matto was invited to participate in the First International Meeting for Open Air Sculpture in Punta del Este, Uruguay. He made a U shaped form sculpture in cement placed next to the beach.

His recent exhibitions include "Francisco Matto: Exposição Monográfica," 6a Bienal do Mercosur, Porto Alegre, Brazil, 2007; "Francisco Matto: The Modern and Mythic," The Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, Texas, 2009; “Constructed Dialogues: Concrete, Geometric, and Kinetic Art from the Latin American Art Collection," The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Texas, 2012-2013.  His work has also been included in group exhibitions in Paris, Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Germany, Moscow, Tokyo, New York, and throughout Latin America.  


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