Jan Matulka (1890-1972) was born in Bohemia (now Czechloslovakia) and immigrated to the United States in 1907, where he studied at the National Academy of Design. Graduating with the Joseph Pulitzer Traveling Scholarship, he traveled to the American Southwest and was inspired by the art traditions of the pueblo tribes. With influences from the New York and Parisian avant-garde, Matulka exhibited at the Societe Anonyme's gallery in New York and in its landmark International Exhibition of Modern Art held at the Brooklyn Museum of Art in 1926. Prominent art patron, Katherine Dreier, arranged Matulka's first one-man show in New York at The Art Center. Matulka taught at the Art Students League for a time, and then, in 1935, he joined the WPA's Federal Art Project and began mural painting. Matulka's oeuvre shows the varying influences of modernism, seen in his Cubist and folk art-inspired landscapes and figural works.
In a resurgence of popularity after his death, Matulka had a retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1979. His work can be found in the collections of: Detroit Institute of Arts; Guggenheim Museum; Metropolitan Museum of Art; Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; National Gallery in Prague, Czech Republic; Museum of Modern Art; and Whitney Museum of American Art.