Abelardo Morell (American, b.1948) is one of the few remaining contemporary artists specializing in the application of Camera Obscura, an ancient photography technique that uses the obscura camera, a square-shaped structure with a small aperture that permits light to penetrate through the lens, in order to project inverted images from outside. The technique was heavily employed by Renaissance artists such as Leonardo Da Vinci to aid in painting, and Morell uses it to capture amazing images of choice locations around the cities of New York and Boston. Abelardo Morell was born and raised in Cuba, but in 1962, at the height of the Cold War, his family fled to New York City, where he studied at Bowdoin College and graduated with a BFA in 1977. In 1981, Morell received an MFA from Yale University School of Art. He dedicated the next 10 to 15 years of his career to Camera Obscura photography, creating numerous impressive pieces that have been showcased extensively across museums and art galleries in the United States.

In the early 1990s, his works were featured in publications such as the Philip Morris Collection (1990), Pleasures and Terrors of Domestic Comfort (1991), Fables of the Visible World (1992), and Feels Like Home (1995). His sample images were exhibited in different museums and galleries, such as the North Gallery in Boston (1988), The National Arts Club in New York City (1993), the Bonni Benrubi Gallery in New York City (1994), and the Jan Abrams Gallery in Los Angeles (1995). Morell's famous pieces from the 1990s include Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1998), A Camera in a Room (1995), and A Book of Books (2002). His 2004 publication, Camera Obscura, features 60 of the artist’s best photographs that he took using the ancient photography technique.

In 2007, filmmaker Allie Humenuk made a documentary about the life and times of this iconic photographer. Morell received an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from his alma mater in 1997. Prior to this, he was awarded multiple fellowships from organizations such as the Cintas Foundation, John Simon Guggenheim, and the New England Foundation. Morell is currently Artist-in-Residence at the Alturas Foundation in South Texas.

Timeline

1948
Born in Havana, Cuba
1977
Bachelor of Arts, Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME
1981
Master of Fine Arts, Yale University School of Art, New Haven, CT
1992
Awarded Cintas Foundation Fellowship
1993
Awarded John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship
1994
Awarded New England Foundation for the Arts Fellowship
1995
Received St. Botolph's Club Foundation Award
1997
Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME
2006
Received The Decordova Museum Rappaport Prize

Exhibitions

2010
Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland
2009
Lacock Abbey, Fox Talbot Museum, Wiltshire, England (solo)
2003
Twilight, Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York, NY
Celebrating Central Park 1953-2003, Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York, NY
Contemporary Photographs and Prints from the Bruce Brown Collection, Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, ME
2002
New Work, Bonni Benrubi Gallery, New York, NY
Abelardo Morell and the Camera Eye, George Eastman House, Rochester, NY
Camera Obscura, Shine Gallery, London, England
Paris Photo 2002, Caroussel de Louvre, Paris, France
What were you Thinking? 15 Years of Photographs, Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago, IL
Into the Woods, Julie Saul Gallery, New York, NY
Through the Looking Glass, Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago, IL
Visions from America, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
Sitelines: Art on Main, Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover, MA
Arte Latino: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Palm Springs Desert Museum, Palm Springs, CA
Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fe, NM
Oakland Museum of California, Oakland, CA
What’s New: Recent Acquisitions in Photography, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
2001
Abelardo Morell and the Camera Eye, Bayly Art Museum of the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI
Paris Photo 2001, Caroussel de Louvre, Paris, France
Can You Believe Your Eyes?, Fitchburg Art Museum, Fitchburg, MA
Voyages (per) Formed, Photographic Resource Center, Boston University, Boston, MA
The Crafted Image: Nineteenth Century Techniques in Contemporary Photography, Boston University Art Gallery, Boston, MA
Pin:Whole, University of Essex, Colchester, UK
Arte Latino: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Orlando Museum of Fine Art, Orlando, FL
Photograph + Monograph, Bonni Benrubi Gallery, New York, NY
Still Light, Beadleston Gallery, New York, NY
City: Prints and Photographs, Brooke Alexander, New York, NY
La Luz, National Hispanic Cultural Center, Albuquerque, NM
2000
Museum of the City of New York, New York, NY
Air Conditioned, Bonni Benrubi Gallery, New York, NY
The Universe Next Door, Bonni Benrubi Gallery, New York, NY
Abelardo Morell and the Camera Eye, The St. Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, MO
LeHigh University Art Galleries, Bethlehem, PA
University Art Museum, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM
Staged and Manipulated: Photographic Fictions from St. Louis Collections, The St. Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, MO
Bonni Benrubi Gallery, New York, NY
1999
Abelardo Morell and the Camera Eye, Museum of Fine Art Boston, MA
Metropolitan Museum of Art, Tokyo, Japan
Abelardo Mroell and the Camera Eye, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Collectors Collect Contemporary: 1990-1999, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA
1998
Waterproof, Parque EXPO '98, Lisbon, Portugal
Face to Face, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, MA
Bonni Benrubi Gallery New York, NY
Bonni Benrubi Gallery, New York, NY
Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago, IL
1997
Family and Friends, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, IL
Tokyo Biennial, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Art, Tokyo, Japan
1996
Light, Time, Focus, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, IL
New in the Nineties, Katonah Museum of Art, Katonah, NY
Blue Sky Gallery, Portland, OR
Winter Blindspot, Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York, NY
Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1995
Looking at Books, Boston Athenaeum, Boston, MA
Robert Klein Gallery, Boston, MA
Jan Abrams Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
Jackson Fine Art, Atlanta, GA
Spaces for the Self: The Symbolic Imagery of Place, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, IL
Degrees of Abstractions: From Morris Louis to Mapplethorpe, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
The Photographic Condition, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA
Warren Street Gallery, Hudson, NY
Southeast Museum of Photography, Daytona, FL
An American Century of Photography, International Center of Photography, New York, NY
1994
Bonni Benrubi Gallery, New York, NY
1993
The National Arts Club, New York, NY
1989
Becker Gallery, Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME
1988
North Gallery, Boston, MA

Literature

2002
Spirit of Family: Al and Tipper Gore. New York: Henry Holt Publishers, 2002
1998
Marcus, Leonard. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Illustrated with photographs by Abelardo Morell). New York: Dutton’s Children’s Books, 1998
1996
Sante, Luc and Vik Muniz. Making It Real. New York: Independent Curators Incorporated, 1996 (catalogue)
1995
Feels Like Home. Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books, 1995
Davis, Keith F. An American Century of Photography: From Dryplate to Digital. New York: Abrams, 1995
1993
Gonzalez, Manuel E. Photography by Cintas Fellows. Miami: Florida International University Art Museum, 1993 (catalogue)
Photo National. University Park: Penn State University, 1993 (catalogue)
1992
Photography 1992. Pittsfield: Berkshire Museum of Art, 1992 (catalogue)
Fables of the Visible World. Boston: Huntington Gallery, 1992 (catalogue)
More Than One Photography. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1992
1991
Pleasures and Terrors of Domestic Comfort. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1991 (catalogue)
1990
Contemporary American Art from the Philip Morris Collection. Knoxville: Knoxville Museum of Art, 1990 (catalogue)
1988
20th Century Photographs from the Collection of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art. Portland: University of Southern Maine, 1988 (catalogue)