Addison - Hal Fischer

Hal Fischer, Archetypal Media Image: Western from Gay Semiotics

ANDOVER – In the culture explosion that the 1960s and 1970s represented, a trio of artists in northern California took on the photographic status quo and reached for new horizons.

Language, Sequence, Structure: Photographic Works by Lew Thomas, Donna-Lee Phillips, and Hal Fischer, at the Addison Gallery of America Art, gives us a glimpse of the trio’s groundbreaking work.

Images produced by Thomas, Phillips and Fischer were in reaction to the Bay Area artistic establishment rooted in a photographic tradition that privileged beauty, craftsmanship, and emotion over concept and theory.

Included in the exhibition are the entirety of Fischer’s seminal series, Gay Semiotics; Phillips’ series, What Do I Mean When I Say Red? What Do You Mean?; and Thomas’ foundational conceptual works depicting everyday acts over multiple prints within a single frame.

“This exhibition highlights work from some of the most influential and important, yet largely underrecognized, photographic thinkers and practitioners of the late 20th century” said Gordon Wilkins, Robert M. Walker Associate Curator of American Art and the curator of Language, Sequence, Structure.

“Even though their work is ‘conceptual,’ visitors don’t need to be steeped in philosophical treatises and theory to appreciate the ideas, humor, and innovation of these artists’ photographs. It’s a particular privilege to be able to show Thomas’ works alongside those of Fischer and Phillips, artists with whom Thomas collaborated and encouraged to pursue this new approach to photography.”

Addison Gallery of American Art

The Addison Gallery, a stand-alone building on the campus of Phillips Academy, Andover, is open to the public 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Tuesday – Saturday, and 1 – 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Admission is free, but reservations are required, call 978-749-4015, or visit the website at

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