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Ewald Mataré

(1887—1965)


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German sculptor, printmaker, painter, designer, and teacher. He was born in Aachen and had his main training at the Academy in Berlin (he also spent a few months there with Corinth). During the First World War he served briefly in the army, and in 1918 he joined the Novembergruppe in Berlin. In 1920 he began making woodcuts (mainly portraits and animal studies in a style influenced by Expressionism) and in 1922 he took up sculpture, which soon became his main concern. His first sculptures were woodcarvings; originally he used driftwood, but he moved on to fine pieces of timber and made great play of exploiting beautiful grain. Characteristically he used broadly contoured forms and polished his surfaces to immaculate smoothness, unbroken by projections or incisions. He worked in a similar vein when using other materials, but in his metal sculpture he sometimes enhanced the surface by inserting gems. His favourite theme was the human figure (Standing Figure, 1926–7, Lehmbruck Museum, Duisburg) and his other subjects included animals and portraits. In 1932 he became professor of sculpture at the Academy in Düsseldorf, but he was dismissed by the Nazis the following year and his work was declared degenerate. After the Second World War he was re-instated at Düsseldorf, and his post-war work included a number of public commissions, especially for churches. Among these were doors for Cologne Cathedral (1947–54), the Alte Kirche in Krefeld (1942), and the Church of World Peace in Hiroshima (1953–4). He also designed the complete interior decoration of the St Rochuskirche in Düsseldorf. In addition to such large-scale ecclesiastical works, Mataré designed liturgical objects such as chalices. In these, and in his later sculpture, his style was more decorative than in his austere pre-war work.

From A Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Art.


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