Edwynn Houk Gallery is delighted to announce the exclusive representation of Abelardo Morell (American, b Havana 1948), whose pictures transform and transcend the ordinary and everyday. Morell has 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. Morell’s first exhibition at Houk Gallery was at the Zürich space in June of 2013.
Always 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, it 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. 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. Morell is the The Lucie Awards 2017 Honoree for Achievement in Fine Art.
The book Flowers for Lisa: A Delirium of Photographic Invention was born from a photograph that the well-known photographer Abelardo Morell took of flowers for his wife Lisa's birthday. Photography had given the flowers an almost immortal character, enough to stimulate the artist and encourage him to continue in an artistic project that represented still life with an inventive touch. This book starts from the work on flowers and comes to deal with the great themes of life such as love, jealousy, hatred, geometry, sex, the passage of time and death. "Lisa McElaney and I have been together since we were 20 and 28 respectively. My relationship with her is at the center of my life as a man and as an artist. Our love for each other - in any weather - founds my determination to be hopeful and vital, even when I feel challenged to do it. She is always my first audience and I count on her eyes to see things that sometimes I do not see," wrote Abelardo Morell.
Abelardo Morell converted a dark, sealed tent into a camera obscura. An image of what an attached periscope saw was projected through its angled mirror onto the tent’s ground. He then photographed that underfoot image and printed it just as it was, showcasing America the beautiful through smatters and tatters of grass and dirt, as if the soles of our shoes had risen up to insist they were as essential to viewing as the view itself.
The national parks hold a special meaning for photographer Abelardo Morell. While growing up in Cuba, he fell in love with the popular Hollywood westerns playing at the local cinema. Once he immigrated to the U.S., he was eager to discover the region for himself. Using a camera obscura, Morell transforms scenes of the national parks—made familiar by Ansel Adams—into otherworldly, impressionistic images.
See Morell’s work in “Ansel Adams in Our Time,” which places Adams into a dual conversation with his 19th-century predecessors and contemporary artists. The exhibition is on view through February 24
In 1986 then-33 year Abelardo Morell made an unabashedly sentimental photograph of his wife Lisa McElaney holding their infant son Brady—mother and child blurrily framed behind pebbled surface of a glass door in their Boston apartment. The Mary Cassatt subject, and his Impressionist treatment of it, violated almost everything the recent MFA graduate had been taught about the art of photography. Fears of ridicule made him pause. Looking through the ground glass before pressing the shutter, he remembers thinking: “Boy, they’re really going to hate this at Yale.”
To express admiration for Ansel Adams (1902-1984) in art journals of avant-garde opinion has for many years been totally uncool. Even before the 1970s, younger landscape photographers, resentful of the gigantic shadow he cast, were less apt to emulate the tonal virtuosity of his black-and-white prints than to make pictures that mocked his Edenic views of the American West and stentorian visual rhetoric.
Flowers are very pretty, and that has made them less than compelling as a subject matter for photographers drawn to complexity and contradiction (although a number of modernists, from Karl Blossfeldt to Imogen Cunningham to Robert Mapplethorpe, were interested in them as architectural objects). So it may be hard to believe that the most exhilarating photo book of the year is entirely devoted to flowers — until, that is, you have actually turned the pages of Abelardo Morell’s FLOWERS FOR LISA: A Delirium of Photographic Invention (Abrams, $60). What began as a gift from the photographer to his wife on her birthday — an explosive photo bouquet involving multiple superimposed layers of flowers, rather than a run-of-the-mill three-dimensional one — turned into an expansive project, which tests the outer limits of how a bouquet might be represented photographically.
Boston-based photographer Abelardo Morell has a longstanding tradition of giving Lisa, his wife of over 40 years, a bouquet of flowers for her birthday. In February 2014, he decided to give her something more permanent. “I thought to myself, ‘Maybe I can take a picture instead?’ For one thing, it would last longer…”
Back in February 2014, the eminent American photographer Abelardo Morell found himself getting tired of the same old thing — that thing being his annual ritual of gifting Lisa A. McElaney, his wife and partner of almost 40 years, with a bouquet of flowers on the occasion of her birthday. (Truth be told, Lisa, herself a distinguished filmmaker and social worker, may not have been all that thrilled at the prospect either.) So instead he hazarded something altogether fresh: a photo of a gift of flowers.
Sally Mann: A Thousand Crossings
Essays by Hilton Als, Malcolm Daniel, Drew Gilpin Faust
230 photos, 320 pages
This catalogue was produced to accompany the retrospective exhibition of Mann’s work organized by the National Gallery of Art and the Peabody Essex Museum. Essays by Hilton Als, Malcolm Daniel and Drew Gilpin Faust are illustrated with both Mann’s work and images by Emmet Gowin, Harry Callaghan, Timothy H. O’Sullivan and other photographers who photographed family, landscape and historic sites. The comparisons show how Mann photographed in a way that is uniquely her own.
Flowers for Lisa
By Abelardo Morell
Essay by Lawrence Weschler
144 pages, 100 images
Morell turns a common, fleeting romantic gesture—giving flowers to a loved
one—into something lasting and permanent: a series of 76 hypnotic photographs, made using a variety of techniques, that commemorate his love for his wife.
A mural-size image of “Walden: Woods and Pond, 2016” by photographer Abelardo Morell was recently installed in the Concord Museum’s Churchill and Janet Franklin Lyceum.
The mural, which is 11 feet high and 32 feet wide, is one of the focal points of the new Anna and Neil Rasmussen Education Center, which will open to the public Nov. 2.
Morell used more than 20 photos taken with a 100-pixel camera of Walden Pond and Woods to create this piece of artwork. The original photograph is a gift from the photographer, who debuted the image in the “Walden: Four Views/Abelardo Morell” exhibition during Concord Museum’s celebration of the bicentennial of the birth of Henry David Thoreau in 2017. Guided and inspired by Thoreau’s journals and his work “Walden,” Morell’s work suggests a new perspective in which to look at Walden Pond.
Abelardo Morell, in his latest book, Flowers for Lisa (Abrams), turns a common, fleeting romantic gesture—giving flowers to a loved one—into something lasting and permanent: a series of 76 hypnotic photographs that commemorate his love for his wife. While Morell is best known for elaborately transforming rooms into life-sized camera-obscuras, he’s experimented throughout his career. “The truth is that I have always worked on many things at once,” Morell tells PDN in an email interview. “I have a restless mind that’s interested in many ideas.” These new photographs relate to Morell’s ongoing effort to challenge himself by imagining new ways to approach a commonly photographed subject.
“New Territory: Landscape Photography Today” (on view through September 16) contains more than 100 works by 40 contemporary photographers, all of whom depict landscapes in unusual ways, whether by experimenting with traditional darkroom techniques or applying newfangled digital processes to otherwise conventional pictures.
“Questions about the landscape and the environment are foremost in people’s minds right now, and this exhibition is a way to foster discussion,” says Eric Paddock, curator of photography at the museum.
“New Territory” brings together heavy hitters — Edward Burtynsky, Andreas Gursky, John Chiara, Mark Ruwedel — and rising talents, such as François-Xavier Gbré, Valérie Anex and Jennifer Colten. Some explore memory and nostalgia, while others focus on how humans are changing the natural world.
None of these artists took a traditional approach to photography or landscape. And neither does the Denver Art Museum’s “New Territory: Landscape Photography Today.” Opening June 24, the exhibition features more than 100 works by 40 artists, including Messrs. Jeppesen, Ross and Chiara. Many of them have applied inventive, do-it-yourself technologies to the fundamentals of photography. The show explores how experimental work—focusing on process and concept—interacts with landscapes, said Eric Paddock, the exhibition’s organizer and curator of photography at the museum. It’s not always a pretty picture. Landscape, he said, “encompasses evil and wonder and danger and beauty.”
Inside Out: Camera Obscura Views of Villas and Their Environs | The Photography of Abelardo Morell
Villa La Pietra, Florence
When Abelardo Morell decided to turn a floral bouquet into one of his celebrated photographs as a birthday gift for his wife, little did he know that this touching gesture would evolve into a major series of his work and become the subject of his forthcoming coffee-table book.
While his initial motivation to create a colorful floral still life was because it “felt more enduring than actual flowers, something in the making of that first photograph gave me a newly found spark to experiment in ways I had not done before,” he says. “Precisely because flowers are such a conventional subject, I felt a strong desire to describe them in new, inventive ways.”
Michael Eastman at Edwynn Houk Gallery
Missouri-born photographer Michael Eastman utilizes formal elements such as color, surface, and patina to express emotional narratives in his architectural images. In his expansive oeuvre, the artist aims to capture historical interiors and landscapes with a visual language that’s rich in color, architecturally precise, and emotionally evocative.
Abelardo Morell at Edwynn Houk Gallery
Cuban-born photographer Abelardo Morell is renowned for his mastery of a centuries-old technique of recording images with a camera obscura to capture urban and landscape scenes on monumental scales. View of Central Park Looking North, Spring, 2010 showcases the artist’s capacity to capture enchanting scenes that bring exterior spaces indoors.
Just as expressions like “corridors of the mind” and “window to the soul” illustrate a link between architecture and our inner world, the artists featured in Lived Space explore our psychological and physical attachments to the places we build and inhabit. In their work, interior rooms function as receptacles of memory, emotion, and identity. Some artworks show the human body merging with the built environment, while others present imaginary structures that exist solely in the artist’s mind. Drawn from deCordova’s permanent collection, the exhibition includes work by Kahn/Selesnick, Sarah Malakoff, Arno Rafael Minkkinen, Abelardo Morell, and Elaine Spatz-Rabinowitz, among others. Shown together, their artwork addresses our impulse to adapt and relate to our architectural surroundings, as well as the ways in which these spaces shape and inspire us.
On View Apr 4, 2018 - Sep 30, 2018.
Best known for his surreal camera obscura pictures and luminous black-and-white photographs of books, photographer Abelardo Morell now turns his transformative lens to one of the most common of artistic subjects, the flower. The concept for Flowers for Lisa emerged when Morell gave his wife, Lisa, a photograph of flowers on her birthday. “Flowers are part of a long tradition of still life in art,” writes Morell. “Precisely because flowers are such a conventional subject, I felt a strong desire to describe them in new, inventive ways.” With nods to the work of Jan Brueghel, Édouard Manet, Georgia O’Keeffe, René Magritte, and others, Morell does just that; the images are as innovative as they are arresting.
Featuring 40 leading international and US galleries, PHOTOFAIRS | San Francisco is a highly curated, boutique fair that offers collectors and curators access to artists and galleries never seen before in the Bay Area.
From Feb. 23 to 25, PHOTOFAIRS | San Francisco at the Fort Mason Center will host select galleries, exhibitions and public programming for its 2018 edition, alongside the work of cutting-edge artists which will be available for purchase for the first time on the West Coast. Highlights include new work by artists Alec Soth (Weinstein Gallery, Minneapolis); the West Coast debut of French visual artist Noémie Goudal (Les Filles du Calvaire, Paris); a female-focused presentation featuring Ruth van Beek and Eva Stenram from The Ravestijn Gallery (Amsterdam). Mandy Barker (East Wing, Doha), and Cuban artist Abelardo Morell (Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York & Zurich) will present works at the fair in addition to speaking in the Fair’s Conversations program.
Saturday, 24 February 2018
12pm-1pm: A Conversation with Abelardo Morell, Artist, and Erin O'Toole, Associate Curator of Photography, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
1pm-1:30pm: Abelardo Morell: Tent Camera book signing in Edwynn Houk Gallery's booth, B01
The exhibition presents a selection of masterpieces from the history of photography, part of the collection of Sondra Gilman and Celso Gonzalez-Falla. Based in New York, it includes over 1500 original prints by some of the greatest photographers of the 20th and 21st centuries. Through visual confrontations, the visitor is invited to experience the power of the photographic line through these sublime works. Photographs by Bérénice Abbott, Eugène Atget, Robert Adams, Walker Evans, Man Ray Lee Friedlander, Vik Muniz, and Abelardo Morell constitute the exhibition.
Bringing together more than 80 pictures taken by photographers from the 19th century to today, (un)expected families at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), explores the definition of the American family—from the families we’re born into to the ones we’ve chosen. The photographs in the exhibition, on view from December 9, 2017 through June 17, 2018, depict a wide range of relationships—multiple generations, romantic unions and alternative family structures—whether connected by DNA, shared life experiences, common interests or even a social media network. Drawn primarily from the MFA’s holdings, the exhibition includes photographs by celebrated artists such as Nan Goldin, Gordon Parks, Nicholas Nixon, Sally Mann, Diane Arbus, Tina Barney, Emmet Gowin and Bruce Davidson. Photograph: Andrea Shea/WBUR.
The Denver Art Museum (DAM) proudly presents Challenging Terrain: Landscape Photography in the 21st Century, a survey of contemporary landscape photography from around the world. The exhibition of more than 80 photographs will gauge how living artists stretch the boundaries of traditional landscape photography to reflect the environmental attitudes, perceptions and values of our time. The works in Challenging Terrain will depict landscapes in unexpected ways, challenging visitors to see photography differently. Organized by the DAM and curated by Eric Paddock, curator of photography, Challenging Terrain will be on view June 24, 2018 to Sept. 16, 2018.
Works by well-known artists, including Cuban-American photographer Abelardo Morell, will be featured in the exhibition. His works focus on iconic views of America’s national parks made famous by previous generations of photographers, such as Ansel Adams. Morell’s process, rooted in photo history, uses a tent camera to project an image onto the ground that he then photographs digitally, resulting in familiar, yet unexpected works.
Artist Abelardo Morell reimagines scenery by turning entire rooms into camera obscuras—effectively merging interior and exterior spaces—and then photographing the results. He discusses how he developed this peculiar practice over time, and how he has found fulfillment infusing everyday environments with new enchantment.
Abelardo Morell’s camera-obscura view inside an attic, and of the sea brought in, is an emotionally accurate correlative for aspects of [To the Lighthouse's chapter] “Time Passes,” and I always think of it when I read the book. Though Woolf ’s fictional house is furnished and Morell’s attic is not, both writer and photographer show how nature reenters our carefully protected spaces (in Morell’s case by a tiny aperture and long exposure, and rendered upside down), restoring to the temporal the timeless.
The Lucie Awards is the premiere annual event honoring the greatest achievements in photography. Each year, the Lucie Advisory Board nominates the most outstanding photographers across a variety of categories. Abe Morell is the 2017 Honoree in the Achievement in Fine Art category. He will be honored with the award on October 29, 2017.
In 1979, before he gained recognition for his photography, Abelardo Morell worked the night shift as a security guard for the Morgan Library & Museum. Now, Mr. Morell has donated a new work of art to the museum to honor its security staff. “Thoreau: 40 Journals in Chronological Order” will be on display at the Morgan from Tuesday through Sept. 10. as part of “This Ever New Self: Thoreau and His Journal,” which traces Henry David Thoreau’s life through notebooks and other artifacts.
Where once visitors to the Morgan Library & Museum in Manhattan would see the gilded names of its wealthy founders, there is now a grid of well-worn books, each representing one of Henry David Thoreau’s journals that he kept for 24 years in the 19th century. This photographic collage by artist Abelardo Morell was donated in honor of the Morgan security guards, recognizing their sometimes unsung role at the museum.
GATHER THE FLOWER GIRLS
On a tiny farm in Washington State, one woman’s floral workshops have become something of a sensation.
By Cathy Horyn
Photographs by Abelardo Morell
Fifty years ago, the market for fine art photographs barely existed. Major auction houses only began including photographs in their sales in the early 1970s, and American museums were surprisingly late to the party, too. The first to collect was the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, which accepted 27 images from Alfred Stieglitz in 1924 — almost a century after photography was invented.
Today, anyone who argues that photographs can’t be fine art sounds like a crank. Treasures of the medium were displayed in the spring at The Association of International Photography Dealers show at Pier 94 in Manhattan, but New Yorkis a paradise for photography collectors year-round. These six galleries are proof.
The displays have great contrapuntal rhythms, between past and present, between color and black-and-white, and among sensibilities guided by burning social consciences, the drive to experiment or a joyful embrace of the medium’s idiosyncratic possibilities. Sometimes all of this can be found in one eclectic presentation. At Edwynn Houk, one of Robert Frank’s insightful images of Americans shares walls with Lillian Bassman’s innovative fashion photography and Abelardo Morell’s playful new still lifes, notably a scene of domestic catastrophe created for the camera from plywood, a ceramic pitcher and a plethora of flowers.
Flowers for Lisa, as it sounds, is Abe Morell’s ballad. Like a deliberate collection of bouquets from Manet, Mitchell and Penn, his new series is effeminate and tender, painterly yet instructed. Morell’s gingerly-framed flowers began as a birthday gift to his wife, Lisa McElaney, with a desire to prolong the pleasure that flowers suggest. Morell went on to investigate the language of flowers, and pronounced them by combining multiple frames of different arrangements to create images of euphoria.
There is the actual pond in Concord, with its trails, its cold depths, its sandy rim, its turtles and fish. And there is the pond that lives in our imaginations as the result of Henry David Thoreau’s classic “Walden.’’ Cuban-born and Boston-based photographer Abelardo Morell explores the interplay of the two through a quartet of panoramic photographs that will be exhibited as part of the launch of a year’s worth of celebrations at the Concord Museum marking the bicentennial of Thoreau’s birth.
By utilizing a basic principle of optics once used by Renaissance artists like Canaletto and Vermeer, photographer Abelardo Morell builds a "camera obscura" with which to capture landscapes and architectural wonders. Serena Altschul reports on how Morell's fascinating photographs really bring the outside in.
Capturing images of the Golden Gate Bridge with his tent camera — a portable form of camera obscura — photographer Abelardo Morell talks about craft, invention, and the mysteries of photography.
Artist Abelardo Morell reimagines scenery by turning entire rooms into camera obscuras — effectively merging interior and exterior spaces — and then photographing the results. He discusses how he developed this peculiar practice over time, and how he has found fulfillment infusing everyday environments with new enchantment.
Last winter seems like a long time ago, and good, record-setting riddance. Who’d want to revisit it? “A Mind of Winter: Photographs by Abelardo Morell” makes an excellent case for doing so. It runs at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art through Sept. 27.
Morell is best known for his camera obscura photographs. Camera obscura is the optical phenomenon whereby light from a pinhole camera projects upside-down images. Morell has memorably turned entire rooms into a form of camera obscura, projecting exterior images on their walls — or, in the case of the Empire State Building, on a bed — and then photographing the results with a film camera. The sense of dislocation is startling: upside down, inside out, unreal reality.
Abelardo Morell went from a small Cuban beach town to New York City in 1962. The streets and its people were chaotic, unfamiliar and overwhelming to a 14-year-old exile who barely spoke English.
“Suddenly, I’m in the biggest city in the world and it’s crazy,” he recalled. “I remember feeling this is more than I can ever comprehend.”
One day in 1991, the photographer Abelardo Morell turned his Quincy, Mass., home into a camera. Employing an optical principle discovered two millennia before film, he darkened his living room with sheets of black plastic and cut a small hole to make a rudimentary lens. A view of his neighbors' white-sided colonials, rendered upside-down and fuzzy-edged, sprang up on the far wall. Capturing the faint image created by this fully furnished camera obscura ("dark chamber") with a regular camera proved difficult—an exposure of five to 10 hours proved to be the key—but this unusual technique eventually yielded the most striking photos of a superb career.
Over the course of the past 25 years, Cuban-born American artist Abelardo Morell has become internationally renowned for works that employ the language of photography to explore visual surprise and wonder. This exhibition of over 100 works made from 1986 to the present is the first retrospective of Morell’s photographs in 15 years. Showing a range of works and series—including many newer color photographs never exhibited before—the exhibition reveals how this persistently creative artist has returned to a photographic vocabulary as a source of great inspiration.
For more information please visit The Art Institute of Chicago website.