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Monday, 25 November, 2002, 18:12 GMT
Chilean artist Matta dies
Matta, surrelaist artist, ahd died aged 91
Roberto Matta: surrealist pioneer has died aged 91
The Chilean surrealist artist Roberto Matta, regarded as a master of surrealist painting, has died aged 91.

Chile called three days of national mourning on Sunday after the artist died at a hospital near Rome on Saturday night. Flags are to be flown at half mast from all public buildings.

The artist's funeral will be held Tuesday in Tarquinia, which is approximately 100 kilometers (about 60 miles) north of Rome.

The country's president, Ricardo Lagos, said Matta's death "represents the passing of one of the last major figures of painting in the 20th century".

Born in Santiago in 1911, Matta worked as an architect in Paris, where he met Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dali.

Spiritual

Matta's artwork was traditionally surrealist, showing no conscious thought and full of abstract ideas.

Many of his paintings featured monstrous or erotic figures, but with a sense of humour and strong spiritual feelings.

Matta's most famous piece, The Crucifixion, has been compared to modern artist Pablo Picasso's classic work Guernica.

During World War II he moved to New York. In 1947 he was expelled from the Surrealist movement, in a period later called "the Matta crisis".

He emigrated to Italy and made his home at a converted convent in Tarquinia.

In a recent interview with an Italian newspaper, Matta said he considered himself more like comedian Charlie Chaplin than any great painter.

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