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Rachel Perry headshot

Rachel Eve Perry has been awarded the Dedalus Foundation’s 2017 Senior Fellowship for her project Making Painting Matter: Jean Dubuffet, Jean Fautrier and French Art in the 1940s.

During the early 1940s—as the war raged and the reality of the Nazi Occupation of France set in—the artists Jean Dubuffet and Jean Fautrier were quietly at work on a matter-based painting subsequently called matiérisme or haute pâte. Characterized by unconventional palettes, base materials and thick pastes, they ignited the art world, signaling the beginnings of something completely “other” (what Michel Tapié would later call an “art autre”).

Although Dubuffet and Fautrier redefined the direction of postwar European art, there are no recent book length studies of either artist. Based on extensive archival research, Making Painting Matter fills a gap in the literature and will be unique in situating the specificity of their interest in materiality within a larger cultural history of the period.

Perry investigates a set of theoretical concepts that inform both artist’s work: materiality, affect, kitsch, abjection, agency, memory and embodiment. Relating “matter painting” to the fields of fashion, tourism, exhibition design and urban planning, Making Painting Matter will offer new readings of well known works and present new works overlooked in standard art historical texts.