Generali Foundation

Morgan Fisher

02 Mar - 29 Jul 2012

© Morgan Fisher
Production Stills, 1970
Courtesy Galerie Buchholz, Berlin/Cologne
The Frame and Beyond
Curator: Sabine Folie in collaboration with Ilse Lafer
2 March – 29 July, 2012

Morgan Fisher (b. Washington, D.C., 1942; lives and works in Los Angeles) 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 came to prominence as an experimental filmmaker in structuralist contexts, 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.

Morgan Fisher, Production Stills, 1970, Filmstill. Courtesy Galerie Buchholz, Berlin/Cologne

In the mid-1970s, Fisher also 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. His work conducts research on questions such as seriality, the frame (in both painting and film), the world within this frame in film and outside it in monochrome painting, and the specific relation between the viewer and the work, taking into account fundamental issues in the history and aesthetics of perception as well as how these are inscribed in the various genres and technologies. As early as the 1970s, Fisher registered the gradual disappearance of certain technologies such as analog film or analog photography—a process that is now being controversially debated. 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.

Morgan Fisher, Picture and Sound Rushes, 1973, film still. Courtesy Galerie Buchholz, Berlin/Cologne

Fisher’s reflection on the history and technologies of seeing also includes a form of appropriation and transformation, of irony and lightness. This reading of (art) history, as well as autobiographical elements, are characteristic of the artist’s much-anticipated writings, which are being published in conjunction with the catalogue accompanying the exhibitions in Mönchengladbach (where the first part of the show, focusing on sculptural works and painting installations, is currently on display) and Vienna.

Volume 1 contains the writings on film; volume 2, those on “non-film,” a term Fisher sometimes uses to describe his objects, paintings, and sculptures. As well as eruditely weaving each of his works into a cosmos of intellectual figures and autobiographical and historical references, he has also written pieces on many other artists including Carl Andre, Blinky Palermo et al.

The Generali Foundation is now bringing together Fisher’s films and “non-films” in the first comprehensive survey of his oeuvre from the early 1970s to the present, an exhibition that also shows which fundamental questions have been discussed in film and painting over the past four decades and which discourses link and separate the two genres.

Morgan Fisher, New Pendant Pair Paintings / New Alien Pendant Pair Paintings, 2011. Installation view, Morgan Fisher. Translations, Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach, 2011. Photo: Achim Kukulies

Institutions that have exhibited Fisher’s filmic oeuvre and his conceptual paintings include The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Tate Modern, London, Neuer Aachener Kunstverein, Aachen, Portikus, Frankfurt am Main, and most recently Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach.

On May 9 and 10, 2012, the Austrian Film Museum will present an overview of Morgan Fisher's film works, including the new “Vienna version” of his S c reening Room (1968), commissioned by the Film Museum. A joint project with the Generali Foundation

Tags: Carl Andre, Morgan Fisher, Blinky Palermo