Jan Matulka

1890 - 1972

Jan Matulka was born in 1890 in a small town 85 miles southwest of Prague, South Bohemia (in what later became Czechoslovakia). In 1905 he took his first art classes in Prague, and two years later his family emigrated to the United States settling in the Bronx, New York. He then began taking classes at the National Academy of Design continuing there through 1917 when he graduated with a Joseph Pulitzer Traveling Scholarship. He used this opportunity to return to Europe where he arrived in Paris in December, 1919. Infatuated with all he saw he rented a studio and returned regularly through the 1920s, traveling in France and Czechoslovakia. In 1925 he began teaching at the Art Students League and in 1926 Katherine Dreier arranged his first important one-man exhibition at The Art Center, 65 East 56th Street in New York. Matlka was a favorite among the League's students and professional jealousy, along with a distaste among the faculty for his European style abstraction, led to his dismissal from his teaching job. From then on he took students for private study. Matulka was an obsessive painter, often working simultaneously in different styles — abstract in the morning and landscape in the afternoon. Moving easily between Europe and New York he was one of the first artists to bring avant-garde painting methods to the States. In 1931, Stuart Davis arranged a showing of his own work at the Art Students League along with the work of Matulka, John Graham and Arshile Gorky, which began a professional friendship between the four.
In 1933, he made his final visit to Europe and gave up his Paris studio to Josef Sima. In 1935 he joined the Federal Art Project (FAP) under the WPA where he created the mural "Synthesis of American Music and History." In 1944 he had a solo exhibition at the A.C.A. Gallery and after that time dropped off the artistic map but still kept working until his death in 1972. In 1969 his name was mentioned in the retrospective catalog for David Smith as his biggest influence, and Matulka’s work began to sell. In 1970 New York dealer Robert Schoelkopf began representing Matulka and gave him a solo exhibition. In 1979 a retrospective of Matulka’s work opened at the Whitney Museum of Art, and in 1982 an exhibition of works donated by Lida Matulka was organized at the Guggenheim museum in New York. In 1995 a one-person exhibition was organized by the McCormick Gallery from 2004-2006 The Global Modernist exhibition traveled to six venues.

Jan Matulka (1890 - 1972)
Matulka c.1930
Jan Matulka (1890 - 1972)
Trees, c. 1925
oil on canvas
29 x 21 inches
Jan Matulka (1890 - 1972)
Matulka c.1930
Jan Matulka (1890 - 1972)
Trees, c. 1925
oil on canvas
29 x 21 inches
Jan Matulka (1890 - 1972)
Untitled (Paris), 1921
watercolor on paper
9 1/2 x 14 inches
#5135
Jan Matulka (1890 - 1972)
Three Harlequins, c.1925
watercolor on paper
25 x 19 inches
#419
Jan Matulka (1890 - 1972)
Purist Composition, c. 1923
gouache on paper
16 x 12 inches
#11176
Jan Matulka (1890 - 1972)
House with Stone Wall, c.1925
watercolor and conte crayon on paper
15 x 20 inches
#5172
Jan Matulka (1890 - 1972)
Cow Resting Under a Tree, c.1927
watercolor on paper
20 x 15 inches
#5061
Jan Matulka (1890 - 1972)
Hudson River Landscape, c. 1925
watercolor and conte crayon on paper
17 x 22 inches
#4566
Jan Matulka (1890 - 1972)
Fishermen – Gloucester, 1929
watercolor and pencil on paper
20 x 29 inches
#4556
Jan Matulka (1890 - 1972)
Boat on the Shore, c. 1928
gouache on paper
15 x 20 inches
#2108
Jan Matulka (1890 - 1972)
Buildings and Boats (Gloucester), c. 1930
gouache and watercolor on paper
15 x 20 inches
#3542
Jan Matulka (1890 - 1972)
Still Life with Basket of Peaches, 1923
oil on canvas
20 x 26 3/4 inches
#656
Jan Matulka (1890 - 1972)
Arles, 1924
conte crayon on paper
10 x 11 1/2 inches
#4552
Jan Matulka (1890 - 1972)
Untitled Abstract Study, 1940-50
watercolor/gouache on paper
9 3/4 x 7 inches
#11639
Jan Matulka (1890 - 1972)
Untitled Abstraction, 1930-40
oil on board
21 x 16 inches
#11655
Jan Matulka (1890 - 1972)
Untitled Abstraction, 1940-50
oil on board
23 1/2 x 17 1/2 inches
#11708
Jan Matulka (1890 - 1972)
Abstraction, 1940-50
oil on canvas
40 x 35 inches
#11369
Jan Matulka (1890 - 1972)
Abstraction, 1940-50
oil on canvas
30 x 24 inches
#11349
Jan Matulka (1890 - 1972)
Abstraction, 1940-50
oil on canvas
31 x 26 inches
#11346
Jan Matulka (1890 - 1972)
Abstraction, 1940-50
oil on canvas
44 x 36 inches
#11339
Jan Matulka (1890 - 1972)
Abstraction, 1940-50
oil on canvas
48 x 36 inches
#11337
Jan Matulka (1890 - 1972)
Surrealist Figures, c. 1934
ink on paper
14 x 21 inches
#4546
Jan Matulka (1890 - 1972)
Seated Nude, c. 1921
pencil on paper
15 x 12 inches
#4550
Jan Matulka (1890 - 1972)
Untitled Abstraction, c. 1962
watercolor on paper
11 x 14 inches
#8388
Jan Matulka (1890 - 1972)
Study- Paris, c. 1921
conte crayon on paper
9 x 11 1/2 inches
#4565
Jan Matulka (1890 - 1972)
Nude Bather Seated Facing Window, 1925
lithograph on thin Japan paper
14 1/2 x 11 inches
#330
Jan Matulka (1890 - 1972)
Seated Figure Study, c.1921
pencil on paper
19 x 12 inches
#4562
Jan Matulka (1890 - 1972)
Untitled Seated Nude, c.1925
pencil on paper
15 3/4 x 10 1/2 inches
#5138
Jan Matulka (1890 - 1972)
Bridge and Barge, c.1921
india ink and conte crayon on paper
6 5/8 x 9 inches
#5179
Jan Matulka (1890 - 1972)
Head with Starfish on Beach, c. 1934
pencil on paper
8 1/2 x 11 inches
#1986
Jan Matulka (1890 - 1972)
Boat Scene in Central Park, 1923, state i/ii without initials at lower left
etching and drypoint on wove paper
10 7/8 x 13 5/8 inches
#478
Jan Matulka (1890 - 1972)
Arrangement, New York, c.1925
lithograph on Katakana Natural paper
13 3/8 x 16 1/4 inches
#10891
Jan Matulka (1890 - 1972)
Study for White Oak, c. 1923
conte crayon on paper
12 x 9 1/2 inches
#5181
Jan Matulka (1890 - 1972)
Untitled- Gloucester, c. 1931
ink on paper
9 x 16 inches
#5051
Jan Matulka (1890 - 1972)
Reclining Nude, c. 1927
red conte crayon on paper
12 1/2 x 18 1/2 inches