Matt Saunders


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The new bodies of work featured here were developed in parallel through the past few years, culminating in an intricate, two-channel video installation.
Painting, photography and printmaking are inextricably linked to cinema in Matt Saunders’ work – especially film’s documentation of history and its depiction of society. For Saunders, the solitude and the prolonged period of contemplation and reflection afforded by the pandemic allowed the artist to further explore the affective power of images as they pertain to the human form.
In both the color and black and white darkroom, Saunders explores new materials and processes that change and deepen his practice. Uniting all three strands of work is a renewed questioning of the intimacies of touch and surface and an innovative intermingling of photography, painting and time.


The first animated sequence for Raft—two lovers floating, turning down a river—serves as the central metaphor for the two-channel work. A pair of custom- built screens, suspended in streams of projection, ebb and flow with passages of alternating intensity and calm.

Interior page of Matt Saunders, "Poems of Our Climate"
Matt Saunders: Poems of Our Climate
Drawing on avant-garde cinema and found photographs, Saunders' multimedia works explore the mobility and affective power of images. This publication encompasses eight years of work by Cambridge, MA- and Berlin-based artist Matt Saunders (born 1975), who engages painting as a time-based medium through cameraless photography, animation, and innovative painting and printmaking processes. Best known for his haunting portraits and landscapes (using imagery culled from avant-garde cinema and found photographs) and moving-image works, Saunders uses analog materials to explore the affective power of images.
Focusing on his experimentation with color processes, the stunning reproductions in this volume range from his first color film, Century Rolls (2012), to his more recent large-scale video installations. Moving image folds together with painting, photography, and print, enlivening our relationship to images and their capacity for uncanny returns, echoes, and ghosts.


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photo of Matt Saunders in his studio
Matt Saunders was born in 1975 in Tacoma, Washington. He lives between Berlin, Germany and Cambridge, Massachusetts where he currently teaches at Harvard University. Saunders’ work challenges the boundaries of artistic media. He enacts painting as a time-based and transitive medium through his camera-less photography, multi-screen animation and innovative painting and printmaking processes. Best known for his haunting portraits and landscapes (the imagery culled from a myriad of sources including avant-garde cinema and found photographs) and moving-image works, Saunders' practice uses analogue materials to explore the fleetingness, mobility and affective power of images. 
In 1997, Saunders received a BA in Visual and Environmental Studies from Harvard and completed his MFA in Painting and Printmaking in 2000 at the Yale University School of Art. In 2010 the Renaissance Society of Chicago organized his first solo institutional show. He has also exhibited at the St. Louis Art Museum, Missouri (2018); Tank Shanghai Project Space, China (2018); Qiao Space, Shanghai, China (2018); Tate Liverpool (2012): and the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard University, Massachusetts (2012).
Matt Saunders’ work has been in numerous group exhibitions including at: Ecole des Beaux arts de Paris, France (2022); American Academy of Arts & Letters, New York (2022); The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2020); Mass MoCA, North Adams, Massachusetts (2017); The Photographer’s Gallery, London (2016); Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2016); the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2013); de Cordova Museum, Lincoln, Massachusetts (2012); the 2011 Sharjah Biennal; and the Apsen Art Museum, Colorado (2011). His work is in the collections of major institutions including The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Guggenheim Museum, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, California; the UCLA Hammer Museum, California; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Saunders was the 2015 recipient of the Rappaport Prize from the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, the 2013 Prix Jean-François Prat and the 2009 Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation award. 
Photo credit: Charles White /
Video credit (Raft): Chiara Barlow
Video credit (Darkroom): Tiff Rekem

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