Michael Morris was born in 1942 in Saltdean, England and immigrated to Canada at age four. After he graduated with honours from the Vancouver School of Art (now Emily Carr University of Art + Design) in 1964, Morris studied at the Slade School of Fine Art at the University College London. There he absorbed the work of Fluxus and the European avant-garde, artistic developments that had a profound influence on Vancouver’s experimental art scene.
When he returned to Vancouver, Morris became a curator at the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Centre for Communications and the Arts at Simon Fraser University. In 1973, Morris and seven fellow artists (Martin Bartlett, Mo Van Nostrand, Kate Craig, Henry Greenhow, Glenn Lewis, Eric Metcalfe, and Vincent Trasov) co-founded the Western Front — one of Canada’s first artist-run centres — and he served as its co-director for seven years. With the aid of a DAAD grant Morris and Trasov moved to Berlin in January 1981 where Morris remained until 1999.
Michael Morris was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities in 2005 by Emily Carr University of Art + Design. In 2011, he received the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts and, in 2015, the Audain lifetime achievement award.
The University of British Columbia's Belkin Art Gallery hosted the exhibition Letters: Michael Morris and Concrete Poetry in 2012. In 2018 Paul Petro Contemporary Art mounted the exhibition, Toronto Letter - A Concise Colour Bar Survey 1966-2017. Image Bank, in collaboration with Vincent Trasov, was mounted at Kunst Werke, Berlin in 2019 and travels to the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery in Vancouver, in 2021. Morris is also included in the group exhibition, Op Art in Vancouver at the Vancouver Art Gallery, October 2020 - April 2021.