Untitled (Pour 120 Journées de Marquis de Sade)
Date 1943
Medium Pastel on paper on card
Dimensions 95 x 80 cm
Inventory ID UID 102-368
368.jpg
At the top right, an organ with a monstrous mouth and a double row of upper teeth devours another. Further down hangs a long-haired head which belongs to a different body that then melts into other living forms which can barely be described as human. The subtitle of the drawing, Pour les 120 journées du marquis de Sade, evokes the Marquis de Sade's Hundred and Twenty Days of Sodom, for which there is no existing illustrated copy by Matta. Like all the surrealists, and even more so than many of them, Matta held the notorious Marquis' writing in great esteem. On 2 December 1959, a few days before the opening of the EROS exhibition – the eighth international surrealism exhibition at the Daniel Cordier gallery – Matta, who had recently rejoined the surrealist group, was invited with friends to watch a performance by Jean Benoît at the poet Joyce Mansour's home in Paris. This performance, entitled Exécution du testament du Marquis de Sade [Execution of the will of the Marquis de Sade], celebrated the hundred and fortieth anniversary of the Marquis' death. Over the course of a Grand cérémonial [Grand Ceremony], Benoît branded his chest with a red-hot iron in the name of the divine marquis. Matta immediately took up the iron and branded himself as well.
Acquired from the artist by Max Clarac-Sérou; The Mayor Gallery, London; acquired in 2000.