Tony MORGAN 1938-2004

Born in Pickwell, Devon, Tony MORGAN left the United Kingdom at the age of 22 to undertake a month-long walk to Rome – an act he later described as his first performance. In the late 1960s, following a nomadic lifestyle that took him to Florence, Paris and London, he arrived in Düsseldorf, where he became one of the leading experimental filmmakers of his generation. Together with his contemporaries, which included Joseph Beuys, George Brecht, Robert Filliou, Blinky Palermo, Sigmar Polk, Dieter Roth and Gerhard Richter, he represented the new German avant-garde. During trips to New York in the early 1970s, Morgan encountered a subculture of gender ambiguity and performance and discovered his own female alter-ego, Herman. He ceased making witty and detached conceptual works and used the camera to record his own, sometimes painful, performances addressed directly to the camera. Back in Europe, he studied mime and came to see “the artist himself as material.” Performances, films of performances, and artworks and objects generated for performances became a major part of his prolific output.

 

The influence of Morgan’s work and his legacy has been revived through a solo presentation of his work ‘The Birth of Herman, 1971–1978’ at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Geneva, Switzerland in 2003, as well as participation in notable group exhibitions, including ‘Signals,’ Sotheby’s S|2 Gallery, London (2018); ‘Conceptual Art in Britain 1964–1979: Film Screening,’ Tate Britain, London (2016); ‘Parade Sauvage: Counter-culture around the 60s,’ Beaux-Arts Mons, Mons (2015); Group: Aktionsraum 1, Mumok, Vienna (2011); ‘Eating the Universe,’ Kunsthalle, Dusseldorf, Germany (2008); and ‘A Century of Artists’ Film in Britain,’ Tate Modern, London (2003), amongst others. His work is held in private collections, as well as in major institutions, including the Centre Pompidou, Fonds Municipal d'Art Contemporain and Musée National d'Art Moderne.