Pueblo Dancer (Matachina), 1917
Jan Matulka (1890-1972)
oil on board
Museum purchase, 2005.
Jan Matulka’s painting Indian Dancer (Matachina) at first may appear as a nonobjective image, but quickly his frenzied brushstrokes resolve into an abstraction of a dancer's oval face. Matulka's expressionist view of a dancer alludes to the influence of Wassily Kandinsky’s paintings on New York's modernists.
Matulka was the most radical modern artist visiting New Mexico during the teens. While some of his southwestern paintings combine distinctively Cubist compositions with Fauvist colors, others record his passionate responses to Native rituals. Matulka traveled through Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas on a Joseph Pulitzer Traveling Scholarship during 1917 and 1918. A portfolio of Matulka's southwestern imagery was lost in New York City, making his experimental paintings from New Mexico quite rare.