American sculptor, film maker, photographer and draughtsman. The son of painter Roberto Matta, he studied architecture in Ithaca, NY, at Cornell University (1962–8), where he mixed with artists and showed little abililty with his chosen subject. There he met Robert Smithson, whose interests in land art and the theory of entropy (concerned with dissipating energy) were a significant influence on him. On completion of his studies he moved to New York and became a well-known figure among artists in SoHo. He is best known for a series of ‘building cuts’ (1972–8) in which he carved sections out of old buildings, treating them (in the manner of modern sculptures) as spatial compositions. Calling these transformations ‘Anarchitecture’, Matta-Clark carved the buildings up with a chain saw, documenting the changes in films and photographs subsequently exhibited in galleries, often alongside fragments of the buildings themselves. His most celebrated work, Four Corners: Splitting (1974; see Lee, nos 1.3, 1.7–10, 1.13–6), consisted of a vertical slice through an old frame house in Englewood, NJ. He also produced an enormous and diverse body of drawings, some simply sketches for projects, others finished works in themselves. In a series of ‘cut drawings’ (1972–6) he developed his idea of the cut as a technique, paralleling his ‘building cuts’: these were geometric designs cut into board, reminiscent of Constructivism. His ‘energy drawings’ (1972–3), often figuring trees, represent the process of organic growth without actually showing movement.
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