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Rip Matteson (1920-2011)

Beauty, the search for it and its sharing is the calling of the artist. How rich the lives of those who choose to paint, for beauty so generously fills the world

- Rip Matteson

  • Rip Matteson was an artist, educator, Doctor of Fine Arts, and bon vivant who reveled in the representation of beauty. Matteson was born in Oakland, CA in 1920. He was educated at U.C. Berkeley, C.C.A.C, Scuola di Belle Arte in Rome and the Parsons School of Design in NYC. In 1949 he moved to Monterey, CA and in the early 1960s served as the President of the Carmel Art Association. In 1973 he and his wife Rosary moved to Kensington, CA (near Berkeley). In 1990, after seeing an exhibition of the work of Egon Schiele in New York, he decided that the female image was nature’s ultimate masterpiece and made it his main subject for the next two decades.

During his career, Matteson was awarded numerous awards for his artistic endeavors including: the Phelan Award for Achievement in Art, the El Cerrito Memorial Award, recognition as an artist by the Carmel Arts Festival, and an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Blackburn College for his contribution to the foundation of its art department. He helped establish the Art department at the newly founded Monterey Peninsula College, and afterward strengthened the art department at Laney College in Oakland. He was accepted by the Carmel Art Association in 1949 and served on its Board and was its President during the early 1960’s. 

    Although he began his artistic journey living a wayfarer’s life while getting his education and starting his art career, he felt that "the bohemian life of sacrifice and starvation is not a prerequisite to artistic success. An artist can find beauty without suffering." Matteson's eye for beauty was particularly apparent during his latter years, during which he devoted most of his efforts to figurative painting- specifically the female form. During this phase of his seven-decade career, he articulated the beauty he saw with a passion and joy that is evident in his work.

    Amongst his artistic influences, Rip listed Botticelli, Titian, El Greco, Goya, Cezanne, Klimt, Egon Schiele, Modigliani and Matisse. He was a great reader, a devotee of film and poetry and a lover of opera, classical and big band music.

    In the 1970s and 1980s Rip also became a successful commercial cartoonist. His works were frequently seen in The New Yorker, Saturday Review, Saturday Evening Post, Mother Jones, Playboy and many other publications. 

    *We would like to thank Rosary Matteson, Rip’s wife of over forty years, for bringing Rip’s collection and story to us.

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