Morgan Fisher was born 1942 in Washington, D.C. He studied art history at Harvard from 1960 to 1964 before attending film school in Los Angeles and going into film. He then worked in Hollywood for several years, mostly as an editor, an experience that shaped his experimental practice. In the 1970s, Fisher created several film installations that can be described as works of Expanded Cinema. From the mid-1990s, in a further development, he turned to monochrome painting and installations of monochrome paintings. He lives and works in Los Angeles. Together with the Museum Abteiberg in Monchengladbach, Germany, in 2011/12 the Generali Foundation organized a first comprehensive retrospective of his work that featured his films as well as more recent paintings.
In the 1970s, Fisher came to prominence as an experimental filmmaker in the context of structuralist film, where the primary focus was not on the content to be represented but on the medium itself—how the apparatus worked, its components, and the constraints imposed by the film industry such as the film reel, format, frame, emulsion, etc. Fisher’s self-referential examination of the medium reveals the conditions that underlie our perception in a characteristically laconic, analytical, and emphatically non-compositional style that suspends any narrative illusionism. Fundamental issues of the history and aesthetics of perception, as well as how they are inscribed in various genres and technologies, play a central role in Fisher’s oeuvre as a whole. As early as the 1970s, he registered the gradual disappearance of certain technologies such as analog film or analog photography—a process that is now subject to intense debate. He is also interested in how the colors, dimensions, and shape of a painting relate to the surrounding architectural space and the viewer’s standpoint.