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The Cover
February 11, 2004

The Vertigo of Eros (Le vertige d'Eros)

Author Affiliations

The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate, MD, Senior Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 2004;291(6):667. doi:10.1001/jama.291.6.667

Highly regarded in Europe and Latin America, the Chilean painter Roberto Matta-Echaurren (1911-2002) has only in recent years begun to be appreciated in the United States. Born in Santiago and educated as an architect at the Catholic University of Santiago, Matta left Chile in 1933 to work as a draftsman in the Paris atelier of Le Corbusier. Thus began an odyssey that would take him to Spain, Scandinavia, Russia, London, and finally, to New York City and Mexico. In Spain, he met and was influenced by members of its artistic community, among them the playwright Federico García Lorca and the painter Salvador Dalí. In Scandinavia he studied architecture and in Russia he helped design housing projects. He also worked with Walter Gropius and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. In 1938, after André Breton had seen some of his drawings, he was invited to join the Surrealists. He became a friend of Marcel Duchamp. But it was Picasso's Guernica, which he first saw in Paris in 1937, that decided the direction of Matta's career. Large in size, yet spare in its images, the work had an impact, and with it an eloquence, new to 20th-century art. Matta would later adapt these same physical characteristics to his own work.