Morgan Fisher was born in Washington, DC, USA, in 1942. He studied art history at Harvard from 1960 to 1964 and film at the University of Southern California (UCLA) in Los Angeles from 1964 to 1966, where he graduated. He then worked as a teacher and for several years as an editor in Hollywood, an experience that influenced his experimental films. In the 1970s he made several film installations that can be related to Expanded Cinema. Since the mid-1990s, Fisher has turned to monochrome painting and installations of monochrome painting. He lives and works in Los Angeles. In 2011/12, the Generali Foundation, together with the Museum Abteiberg in Mönchengladbach, dedicated the first comprehensive retrospective in Europe to him, showing not only his filmic works but also his drawings and 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.