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Still Life Composition

Matulka, Jan

Still Life Composition

charcoal & watercolor on paper

1999 Anonymous Gift

Jan Matulka considered himself an American by choice. After emigrating from Czechoslovakia to the United States with his family in 1907, Matulka worked as a newspaper illustrator. Most of his spare time was spent at the National Academy of Design (1908-1917). In 1917, Matulka won a Pulitzer Traveling Scholarship and headed to the American Southwest. He was attracted to the landscape of the southwest and the colorful patterns in the art of Native Americans. He developed an interest in Cubism in which subjects are reduced to geometric forms. Eventually, he began to produce abstract paintings in the Cubist style.

Matulka's abstract compositions of the 1920s and 1930s often parallel the work of his friend, Stuart Davis. Matulka and Davis both focused on subjects which they reduced to basic lines, shapes and colors. Matulka continued to develop his style during the 1930s and produced a series of paintings with a Cubist influence.