Matta Here Sir Fire, Eat! 1942
Intrigued to know WHAT ON EARTH this painting’s abstruse title can possibly refer to?
Roberto Matta is one of Chile’s best known painters and from 1938, when he emigrated to the United States, he started painting “psychological morphologies”. He did this by dragging paint across the surface using his fingers to visualize the pictures rising up from his subconscious. I am not sure if we can give a precise meaning to the title except for the predominate bright yellow and red colours suggesting fire. However, his personal life suggests a possible theme. He was a good friend of the artist Arshile Gorky who married Agnes ‘Mougouch’ Magruder in 1941. In 1946 Mougouch had an affair with Roberto Matta, Gorky’s studio burned down and Gorky had a colostomy for cancer. In 1948, Gorky broke his neck and paralyzed his arm in a car accident and his wife left him with their children. Gorky hanged himself a few weeks later. So, I don’t know if Matta was prescient but he certainly made Gorky ‘eat fire’.
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