Biography

Abelardo Morell's photographs transform and transcend the ordinary and everyday. Edwynn Houk Gallery began exclusive representation of the artist in 2013, celebrating with a solo exhibition in Zürich. That same year, Morell's work been the subject of a major retrospective exhibition, “The Universe Next Door,” which started at the Art Institute of Chicago in June of 2013, toured to the Getty Museum, Los Angeles, and ended at the High Museum in Atlanta in May of 2014. 

Intrigued with optics and how an image is constructed, Morell began his photographic career within the most steadfast of genres, the still life. His pared down images focused resolutely on simple, everyday items: a glass bottle, a page within a book, a child’s toy. In 1991, Morell, wanting to illustrate to his students the basic tenet of photography – light passing through an aperture and its projected image – stumbled upon what proved to be a turning point; Morell realized with his image “Light Bulb,” that any room, any space can be turned into a camera. Renowned for his camera obscura works, Morell has over the years perfected the technique and continues to use what is fundamentally one of the oldest, most primitive ways to make an image.

 

The passage of time and capturing it in a photograph has long fascinated Morell. In the beginning, his camera obscura photographs required exposures of several hours, but now with digital technology, the process is much faster. He is able to show specific times of day in single images, moments can be pinpointed instead of hours passing. 

 

Morell deftly balances a philosophical approach with a scientific rigor, and honoring a Modernist tradition, he continues to experiment, creating collages, cliché verre on glass, and for his camera obscura works, adapting a tent so that he can take the images outdoors. The effects of these images hark back to Impressionist painting where famous vistas are juxtaposed with unexpected, nontraditional surfaces, a marriage of two outdoor realities.

Morell lives and works in Boston. He studied at Bowdoin College and holds an MFA from Yale University, and an honorary doctorate from Bowdoin. In 1993, he was the winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship. Until 2009, he was a professor of photography at Massachusetts College of Art. Morell was the subject of a documentary film, Shadow of the House, in 2007. There are numerous publications and monographs on his work, including his illustration of Alice in Wonderland and ‘Book of Books,’ with an introduction by author Nicholson Baker. He was the recipient of the International Center of Photography’s Infinity Award in 2011 and the 2017 Lucie Awards Honoree for Achievement in Fine Art. His work is in numerous private and public collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Fondation Cartier, Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Since beginning representation of the artist, Edwynn Houk Gallery has presented four solo exhibitions of the artist's work, from his earliest camera obscura images to more recent series, such as Flowers for Lisa.

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