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Matt Clark was born in Coshocton, Ohio, in 1903, eight years after his brother, Benton, who was also a well-known "Western" magazine illustrator. Both Clarks learned to draw horses at first hand, frequently visiting their father's livery stable. Matt's interest in art was further stimulated by his teacher, Laura Patterson, who conducted field trips around the the town, which had once been an Indian village and later an important anchorage in the Ohio-Erie Canal system.
After high school, Clark attended the Art Students League, and the National Academy of Design art school in New York, where he studied under Walter Hasell Hinton. He also attended the Art Institute of Chicago. His first professional affiliation was with the Stevens, Sundblom commercial art studio in Chicago, where he worked on advertisements for such clients as H.J. Heinz, Packard automobiles, and Swifts Premium meats. During this time, he began to freelance for such magazines as "College Humor" and "Judge".
In the early 1930s, Clark became a full-time freelancer, moving to New York and sharing a Greenwich Village studio with his brother. Among the magazines using his work were "The Saturday Evening Post", "McCalls", "American", "Good Housekeeping", "Cosmopolitan", "American Weekly" and "This Week". While his brother was best known for his work in oils, Matt was a leading exponent of dry brush water color, a medium that, because of its underlying black-ink drawing, reproduces equally well in full color or black-and-white.
Characterized as a Western artist, Clark also illustrated stories of general historical background, as well as adventure fiction in a contemporary setting. Among his work for "The Saturday Evening Post" were Kenneth Roberts's "Roger's Rangers" (from the novel, "Northwest Passage"), "Red Wheels Rolling," by Walter D. Edmonds, and Walter van Tilberg Clark's "The Oxbow Incident."
During the 1940s, he lived and worked on his farm in Bucks County, Pa., moving back to New York in 1956. In the last decade of his career, most of his work appeared in the Hearst Sunday supplement, "American Weekly".