The deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum announced today that Matt Saunders has won its Rappaport Prize, which is given annually to a contemporary artist whose practice is somehow involved with New England. The Berlin– and Boston–based artist now joins such past recipients as Liz Deschenes, Orly Genger, and Ursula von Rydingsvard in receiving $25,000 from the deCordova, which is located in Lincoln, Massachusetts.
Saunders is known for tough-to-classify work that uses painting, photography, and film techniques to produce objects that are a hybrid of the three media. Many of his works allude to or are based on early 20th-century avant-garde films, and typically involve Saunders painting photographic negatives onto linen. Saunders then runs light through the fabric, creating abstract images that no longer look like the original sources for the works. The artist most recently showed work in May at Marian Goodman Gallery, in New York, where he premiered a new multi-channel installation based on the sets architect Hans Poelzig designed for German Expressionist films in the 1920s.
Saunders was eligible for the Rappaport Prize because he received his M.F.A. from Yale University and his B.A. from Harvard, where he now teaches in the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies. The artist has also had connections to the deCordova in the past—his work was featured in the museum’s 2012 biennial.
“I can’t overstate the excitement I feel—and the gratitude—for this unexpected, wonderful prize,” Saunders said in a statement. “Twenty years ago I started visiting deCordova as a student, at a time in life that really opened my eyes. The deCordova in particular and Boston’s institutions in general were transformative for me, and I’m delighted to be back in the community and honored to be named in these ranks.”