Morgan Is Sad Today
The photo series by Jean-Pierre Maurer and Robert Müller was only shown once, in the Kunstgewerbemuseum Zürich in 1968, without any commentary other than a text by Ettore Sottsass. It is now displayed in this same way in Morgan Is Sad Today, which has been republished. The title of the book comes from a song whose lyrics go on to say “…sadder than yesterday”– and which in turn comes from the movie Morgan, A Suitable Case for Treatment, 1966, by Karel Reisz. It marked the beginning of a new way of making movies, the Free Cinema, with statements like “No film can be too personal,” or “Perfection is not an aim,” which are also reflected in the photographs at hand. The staged documentations and the stagings documented in the studio recall elaborate, but unpretentious concepts in art photography series by Swiss artists such as Manon or Urs Lüthi; on the other hand, though, the formal style, motifs, and narrative threads echo comic books. The pictures capture the Zeitgeist: on a trip to the myth-obsessed London of the Sixties or when Zurich Beat bands still posed for record covers standing head to head, or made leaps wearing suits with skinny ties and Flamenco dancer ankle boots. The Mid-sixties were also a time when the first large-scale black and white prints of posters became available: of Buster Keaton or Albert Einstein sticking his tongue out, or Trotsky.The photo series Morgan Is Sad Today is in this sense very much also a conceptual stringing together of posters. In his text Ettore Sottsass stays very close to what the Zeitgeist embodied without glorification or denigration, with a subtle sense of amusement. And Sandro Fischli draws on the backgrounds of the pictures, sometimes sharply, sometimes deliberately, fraying a subjective and associative social and cultural history of the 1960s, and looking back on an economically booming Switzerland in which the boundaries of high culture were becoming increasingly porous.