Exhibition

Thought Pieces

1970s Photographs by Lew Thomas, Donna-Lee Phillips, and Hal Fischer

January 4–August 9, 2020

Floor 3

Tickets
Entry to this exhibition is included with general admission.
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In the early 1970s, Lew Thomas set out to disrupt photography in San Francisco. Tired of the mystical thinking and emotionalism that he felt had dominated work produced in the region since the 1940s, Thomas pursued a practice grounded in Conceptual art and contemporary philosophy. Donna-Lee Phillips and Hal Fischer were among the cohort of photographers who embraced Thomas’s mission and followed his lead in exploring the relationship between photography and language. For a short but intensely active period from the mid to late 1970s, the three frequently exhibited together, wrote about one another’s work, and published books under the imprint NFS Press, founded by Thomas and Phillips. This exhibition reunites their work for the first time in decades, offering an opportunity to reassess their legacy in the Bay Area, and their place in the larger history of photography.


Exhibition Preview

Lew Thomas, Time Equals 36 Exposures, 1971, printed 1989; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Accessions Committee Fund purchase; © Lew Thomas
Lew Thomas, The Vacuum, 1975, printed later; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Accessions Committee Fund purchase; © Lew Thomas
Hal Fischer, Signifiers for a Male Response, from Gay Semiotics, 1977; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, gift of Richard Lorenz; © Hal Fischer
Hal Fischer, Handkerchiefs, from Gay Semiotics, 1977; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, promised gift of the Black Dog Collection; © Hal Fischer
Donna-Lee Phillips, December 3, 1977, from Fragments from a Visual Journal, 1977; Black Dog Collection; © Donna-Lee Phillips
Donna-Lee Phillips, Untitled [lips] and Untitled [telephone] from What Do I Mean When I Say Red? What Do You Mean? 1980, printed 2016; courtesy the artist and Hal Fischer Associates; © Donna-Lee Phillips


Watch

Hal Fischer: The Gay 1970s

Artist Hal Fischer talks about documenting his community in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood in the 1970s, and describes the genesis and impact of his landmark series Gay Semiotics.

Generous support for Thought Pieces: 1970s Photographs by Lew Thomas, Donna-Lee Phillips, and Hal Fischer is provided by The Black Dog Private Foundation Fund and Randi and Bob Fisher.

Header image: Lew Thomas, Time Equals 36 Exposures, 1971, printed 1989; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Accessions Committee Fund purchase; © Lew Thomas