ABELARDO MORELL (Born 1948)

ABELARDO MORELL (Born 1948)
Renowned for his appropriation of defunct photographic processes, Abelardo Morell is one of the most innovative photographers working today. Producing images that connect the antique beginnings of photography to the modern environment, Morell uses a variety of unusual methods tintypes, glass negatives, wet plate collodian, cyanotypes, cliché verre and, most famously, the camera obscura.
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RAPIDLY MOVING CLOUDS OVER FIELD. FLATFORD ENGLAND, 2017, AFTER CONSTABLE SERIES

 by ABELARDO MORELL (Born 1948) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

RAPIDLY MOVING CLOUDS OVER FIELD. FLATFORD ENGLAND, 2017, AFTER CONSTABLE SERIES

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COPPER BEECH TREE IN HAMPSTEAD HEATH LONDON ENGLAND 2017, AFTER CONSTABLE SERIES

 by ABELARDO MORELL (Born 1948) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

COPPER BEECH TREE IN HAMPSTEAD HEATH LONDON ENGLAND 2017, AFTER CONSTABLE SERIES

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Early Years

Abelardo Morell was born on 17th September 1948 in Havana, Cuba to a working-class family. His father was imprisoned several times in the chaos of the Cuban revolution and under increased threat he decided to move his family to America. They settled in New York when Morell was 14 years old. Speaking no English when he arrived in New York, Morell earned enough working as a pharmacy delivery boy to buy a box Brownie camera. Overwhelmed by the scale of the city that became his new home, Morell photographed his family as they took to life in America. He graduated in 1977 with a BA in Fine Art from Bowdoin College, Maine, and went on to gain an MA in Fine Art from Yale University School of Art in 1981.

Photographic Career

The internationally renowned and critically respected photographer has not settled for the easy life. In our image- saturated, media-conglomerated age, Morell has rejected the technology at the fingertips of photographers and taken instead what he refers to as the "natural" method, prohibiting composite Photoshop images that have spread beyond advertising and become de rigour in the heady world of fine art photography. "If it comes too easy," Morell says, "it might be suspect".

Unlike his contemporaries, Diane Arbus and Helen Levitt, who continued in the American documentary tradition, Morell started turning his lens to the subject of the camera itself, and the medium of photography. This resulted in his break through work in 1991, Light Bulb a photograph that explains how a photograph is made. Using a Camera Obscura technique, Morell produced black and white images of interiors that reflect a view of their outdoor surroundings. Allowing a small ray of light to shine into the unlit room from outside, he then captures the reflection on his large-format camera, often exposing the film for up to 8 hours. From the interior spaces of his own home, he went on to create many more Camera Obscura images in rooms all over the world. Carrying heavy equipment up mountains, into deserts and onto New York rooftops, he has travelled the world to photograph famous landmarks with a piquant curiosity. The Eiffel Tower, San Marco Square, the Manhattan Bridge and Yosemite are all immediately familiar and yet eerily altered.

In 1995 the first collection of these pictures were published in a book, "A Camera in a Room". Other early works focus on household objects, that he examines with extreme close ups, showing the viewer a familiar object at an unusual angle. While his style has remained unchanged, in his various projects he has photographed books, maps, people and works of art. Morell's recent images evolve from his early subject matter, which he now photographs in colour.

Morell has used tintypes, glass negatives, wet plate collodian, cyanotypes and cliché verre all rejuvenating out-dated techniques to force us to look from unseen perspectives and to marvel in the mundane. "I love the period of the invention of photography," he says. "Especially the work of Fox Talbot. The idea that photography grew as the product of optics, chemistry, philosophy and curiosity has been an inspiration to me in my work with the camera obscura, tent-camera, photograms and cliché verre pictures. I don't want to be those inventors but I want to drink from where they drank. I'm ultimately interested in making contemporary works but as something reworked from the past."

Exhibitions and Awards

Morell has received the Infinity Award from the International Centre of Photography in New York in 2011. He is also a professor of art at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. His work has been exhibited in some of the most renowned galleries and museums in the world including, The Victoria & Albert Museum, London, The Whitney Museum of American Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

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