Born in Prague, Czechoslovakia, Jan Matulka lived in the Bronx in New York, and in 1908, began to study at the National Academy of Design. His work up to 1919 showed a more abstract style, replacing his earlier realism. In 1919, he went to Paris where he was exposed to Cubism, and his painting after that seemed to always carry that influence. Matulka became a leading modernist working with Stuart Davis to find a new type of Cubism based on distortion of forms. The totality of his work ranged from traditional to abstract, reflecting the changes in the art world of 20th century America. He had his first one-man exhibit in New York in 1925, and by 1930, he and Davis were experimenting with their version of Cubism. In the late 1930's, Matulka became a WPA muralist and continued to paint for the remainder of his life.