Morgan Fisher (artist)

Morgan Hall Fisher (born 1942, Washington, D.C.) is an American experimental filmmaker and artist best known for his structuralist and minimalist films referencing the material processes of celluloid film and the means and methods of producing moving images, including the camera, the director and crew, and the ing process. Since the 1990s, Fisher has also been producing paintings and installation works. His work has been included in three Whitney Biennial exhibitions, 1985, 2004 and 2014. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1987.[1]

Fisher's work has been noted for its relationship to the Southern California landscape and its architecture during a time when the region was staking an aesthetic and intellectual claim in the larger art world. Curator and critic Stuart Comer writes, "Windshields, billboards, movie screens, ocean views, econ-o-box apartment buildings and long expanses of asphalt and concrete form a unique Angeleno vocabulary of monochrome surfaces on which the symbolic configuration called California is played out. This seemingly limitless expanse of flat planes is the arena in which Fisher has staked his challenge to existing regimes of representation and narrative."[2]

Early life and education[]

Fisher majored in Art History at Harvard University (1960–1964) before moving to the West Coast. He attended USC from 1964 to 1965, and worked toward an MFA in the Motion Picture Division at UCLA the following year.[3]


After ending his studies, Fisher worked in the Hollywood film industry, working in support roles on projects by low-budget master Roger Corman and Haskell Wexler.[4] Between 1968 and 1974, he created ten of his own films. His 1984 16 mm film, Standard Gauge,[5] was widely acclaimed, and inspired the title for his 2005 exhibition at the Whitney Museum.[6]

Fisher cites visual artists, such as Sol LeWitt and Andy Warhol, as influences. His most recent film, ( ), consists of a series of inserts—shots from an alternate angle, usually of details, actions, or objects that clarify the action of the main shots—harvested from 16 mm commercial films and assembled according to a system influenced by LeWitt, allowing the order of the shots to be determined by this system. Fisher explains in the film's program notes: "A rule, or a method, underlies ( ), and I have obeyed it, even if the rule and my obedience to it are not visible." [7]

Fisher's work is in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France; FRAC Ile-de-France, Paris, France; Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, California; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, California; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden; Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin, Germany; and Generali Foundation, Vienna, Austria.[8] Fisher's paintings have been exhibited at the Generali Foundation in Vienna, Austria; Neuer Aachener Kunstverein in Aachen, Germany; Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands; Portikus in Frankfurt, Germany; and Museum Abteiberg in Mönchengladbach, Germany.[9]


The Academy Film Archive has preserved a number of Morgan Fisher's films, including Documentary Footage, Turning Over, and Projection Instructions.[10]



  1. ^ "Morgan Fisher". John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. Retrieved 4 January 2016.
  2. ^ Comer, Stuart. "Morgan Fisher: The Kid Stays in the Picture". Raven Row. Raven Row. Retrieved 4 January 2016.
  3. ^ "The European Graduate School: Faculty". The European Graduate School. Archived from the original on 24 June 2014. Retrieved 21 June 2014.
  4. ^ Comer, Stuart. "Morgan Fisher: The Kid Stays in the Picture". Raven Row. Raven Row. Retrieved 4 January 2016.
  5. ^ "Standard Gauge"
  6. ^ "Morgan Fisher Retrospective to Open at Whitney Museum of American Art" (PDF). Whitney Museum. Retrieved 21 June 2014.
  7. ^ Hainley, Bruce (2015-10-13). "The Bigger Picture". Frieze (94). Retrieved 4 January 2016.
  8. ^ "Morgan Fisher Biography". Retrieved 4 January 2016.
  9. ^ "Morgan Fisher: Translations Press Release". Museum Abteiberg. Museum Abteiberg. Retrieved 4 January 2016.
  10. ^ "Preserved Projects". Academy Film Archive.