Publications

 

MONOGRAPHS BY ABELARDO MORELL

 

 

Universe Next DoorThe Universe Next Door
Monograph

Abelardo Morell

The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, 2013

Purchase

Over the past twenty-five years, Abelardo Morell (b. 1948) has earned inter­na­tional praise for his images that use the lan­guage of pho­tog­ra­phy to explore visual sur­prise and won­der. Born in Havana, Cuba, Morell came to the United States as a teenager in 1962 and later stud­ied pho­tog­ra­phy, earn­ing an MFA from Yale Uni­ver­sity. He gained atten­tion for inti­mate, black-and-white pic­tures of domes­tic objects from a child’s point of view, inspired by the birth of his son in 1986, as well as images in which he turns a room into a giant cam­era obscura, pro­ject­ing exte­rior views onto inte­rior spaces; and pho­tographs of books that revel in their sen­sory materiality.

In more recent years, he has turned to color, explor­ing the cam­era obscura with a painterly delight and inno­vat­ing a tent cam­era that projects out­door scenes onto a tex­tured ground. Across his career, Morell has approached pho­tog­ra­phy with remark­able wit and cre­ativ­ity, exam­in­ing every­day objects with child­like curios­ity. The first in-depth treat­ment in fif­teen years, this hand­some and impor­tant book exam­ines Morell’s career to the present day, includ­ing his ear­lier works in black-and-white and never before pub­lished color pho­tographs from the past decade. An essay by Eliz­a­beth Siegel, along with a recent inter­view with the artist and an illus­trated chronol­ogy of his life and works, offers a riv­et­ing por­trait of this con­tem­po­rary pho­tog­ra­pher and his ongo­ing artis­tic endeavors.


Abelardo Morell MonographAbelardo Morell
Monograph

Abelardo Morell

Phaidon Press, New York, 2005

Purchase

A ret­ro­spec­tive of Morell’s career: 105 pho­tographs span­ning 30 years. Pho­tographs by Abelardo Morell. Intro­duc­tion by Richard Wood­ward. TF Edi­tores, Spain. Phaidon Press, Lon­don. English/Spanish/French Publication

“Abelardo Morell’s cam­era trans­forms the recesses of the world into some­thing even more shad­owy. The fact that what he finds in these shad­ows is quite ordi­nary — books, kids’ toys, a paper bag — makes the results mag­i­cally dis­ori­ent­ing and (as in the cover image of a vase perched on the edge of a table) pre­car­i­ous. This year, a fan­tas­tic selec­tion of his work was pub­lished, “Abelardo Morell.” —Geoff Dyer, Favorite Books of 2005, L.A. Times

“There is no doubt he has been among the most pro­tean and inven­tive pho­tog­ra­phers at work any­where dur­ing the last 15 years. By him­self prac­tic­ing more than one pho­tog­ra­phy, he has enriched the pos­si­bil­i­ties for his con­tem­po­raries, what­ever their artis­tic faith … Morell thinks big by keep­ing his focus small. His eye can’t help being drawn to roman­tic decay, to the Laocoon-like con­tor­tions of bound pages dam­aged by flood or a box of shred­ded, worth­less money. And yet he also sees how light on the gilded edges of a stack of library books sud­denly trans­forms them into bars of gold. Alert to the vicis­si­tudes of the phys­i­cal that the cam­era lens is ide­ally suited to cap­ture and mag­nify, but dri­ven to express the meta­phys­i­cal and tran­scen­dent — to ven­ture into the realms of dreams and death — Morell has a mock­ing, adven­tur­ous spirit that shows no sign of being jaded by the remark­able strange­ness of being here on earth.” —Richard Wood­ward, from the Introduction


Camera ObscuraCamera Obscura
Monograph

Pho­tographs by Abelardo Morell. Intro­duc­tion by Luc Sante
Bulfinch Press, New York 2004

Purchase

“The cam­era obscura seems lit­tle short of mirac­u­lous, even after the opti­cal ratio­nale has been explained… That Abelardo Morell was able to pho­to­graph the thing in action, in effect pro­duc­ing pho­tographs of a pho­to­graphic process, and that he has done so with such lap­i­dar and trans­for­ma­tive elo­quence, is breath­tak­ing.” -Luc Sante, from the Intro­duc­tion.

Afterword by Abelardo Morell


A Book of BooksA Book of Books

Pho­tographs by Abelardo Morell. Intro­duc­tion by Nichol­son Baker
Bulfinch Press, New York 2002

A Book of Books review by Craig Stark

Purchase

“At least in a fig­u­ra­tive sense, this book…is a bibliophile’s dream. The 52 well-reproduced pho­tographs are paeans to the mate­ri­al­ity of book­ness, as imag­ined from every pos­si­ble tan­gent — books on shelves, books stacked in piles, book spines, book edges, book pages, open books, big books and small books. The notion of pho­tograph­ing books may sound ado­les­cent, but Abelardo Morell has made a career of tak­ing child­like ideas and ren­der­ing them in sophis­ti­cated, reflex­ive fash­ion. He doesn’t dis­ap­point here. Whether the image is sim­ple, like one that shows the spine of a book titled ‘Thought, 5, 1930–31,’ or com­plex, like ’ A Tale of Two Cities,’ in which Dick­ens’ famous begin­ning is blurred by type bleed­ing through from the reverse side of the page, Morell man­ages to make pic­tures seem sym­bol­i­cally rich as words. His pho­tographs of illus­trated books are espe­cially dense and sug­ges­tive; the cam­era stares into the fold of adja­cent pages, reflect­ing and refract­ing the printed pic­tures so that they become some­thing else: new pic­tures.”Andy Grund­berg, The New York Times

“Abelardo Morell’s pho­tographs are liv­ing proof that books are much more than car­ri­ers of infor­ma­tion, that they are pre­cious arti­facts in their own right, with sto­ries quite apart from their texts to tell. A daz­zling per­for­mance, arriv­ing, as it hap­pens, in the nick of time. Nicely done.” —Nicholas A. Bas­banes, author of A Gen­tle Mad­ness and Patience & Fortitude

“In a superb dis­play of tal­ent, renowned pho­tog­ra­pher Morell pro­vides a mag­i­cal expe­ri­ence for the bib­lio­phile and sooth­ing engage­ment for pho­tog­ra­phy enthu­si­asts. Morell trans­forms every­day objects-book spines, pages, illus­tra­tions, type­face, and shelves-into mem­o­rable con­duits of our long con­nec­tion with read­ing and the book. This invig­o­rat­ing work reaf­firms the impor­tance of books and serves as a reminder of their frag­ile but endur­ing pres­ence in our his­tory and psy­che. Nichol­son Baker, author of the con­tro­ver­sial Dou­ble Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper, con­tributes a fit­ting pref­ace; an engag­ing and beau­ti­fully writ­ten piece, it reveals the writer’s sin­cere love for books. How­ever, the stars of the vol­ume are, unde­ni­ably, the books on which Morell focuses his cam­era. If they could talk, those books would thank him for redis­cov­er­ing them and adding, through his genius, such grace and sen­ti­ment to the essence of their exis­tence on the pages of yet another book” —Edward K. Owusu-Ansah, Library Journal

“Although we may have been taught not to judge a book by its cover, pho­tog­ra­pher Abelardo Morell reverses the old say­ing and delight­fully shows us how to rel­ish a book by its look. This inven­tive and clever pho­to­graphic ode to the printed word cap­tures all the pow­er­ful pos­si­bil­i­ties con­tained on the page. A Book of Books gives us images that range from for­mal stud­ies of shape and tex­ture to the joy­ously whim­si­cal. Most lumi­nous are the sculp­tural ren­di­tions, fluid pages curv­ing over their spines like majes­tic moun­tains in the dis­tance. The abstract pat­tern of a dic­tio­nary takes on the enig­matic char­ac­ter­is­tics of crop cir­cles, while a water-damaged book shows itself as a twisted organic form. An aging book slowly decays in a stark image of paper so frag­ile it has prac­ti­cally turned to dust. Library stacks seen from above become a labyrinth through Morell’s lens. Includes a lovely pref­ace by Nichol­son Baker. Per­fect for any book enthu­si­ast.” —J.P. Cohen, Amazon.com


Abelardo Morell and the Camera EyeAbelardo Morell and the Camera Eye

Pho­tographs by Abelardo Morell. Essay by Diana Gaston
Museum of Pho­to­graphic Arts, SanDiego, CA 1999

Purchase

“Con­sis­tently through­out his work, Morell dis­rupts the bound­aries of a fixed or per­ma­nent under­stand­ing of things. Like Lewis Caroll’s White Rab­bit, Morell tests the mal­leabil­ity of the every­day world, pre­sent­ing ordi­nary objects from absurd or unfa­mil­iar van­tage points … Like the pho­tog­ra­pher, who trans­forms his sub­jects through unex­pected per­spec­tives and mes­mer­iz­ing descrip­tion, the viewer becomes trans­fixed by the poten­tial of the com­mon­place .”Diana Gas­ton, Cura­tor of the exhi­bi­tion: Abelardo Morell and the Cam­era Eye


Alice's Adventures in WonderlandAlice’s Adventures in Wonderland

By Lewis Car­roll. Photo-Illustrations by Abelardo Morell. Intro­duc­tion by Leonard S. Marcus
Dut­ton Children’s Books, New York 1998

Purchase

“For his illus­tra­tions, Abelardo Morell had the bril­liant idea of mak­ing the book itself a char­ac­ter in the story. His pho­tographs, at once eerie and full of wit, are beau­ti­fully real­ized.” —Peter Galassi, Chief Cura­tor of Pho­tog­ra­phy, Museum of Mod­ern Art

“There is no end to the avail­able edi­tions of Alice, of course, but here is one worth hav­ing.” —Booklist


Face to FaceAbelardo Morell: Face to Face

Pho­tographs by Abelardo Morell. Essays by Charles Simic and Jen­nifer Gross
Isabella Stew­art Gar­dener Museum 1998

Purchase

“The aston­ish­ing aspect of Morell’s pho­tographs is their abil­ity to give this old world a new look. What is this he’s got here, we con­tin­u­ally ask? Morell has found the way to domes­ti­cate the fan­tas­tic. In this pho­to­graph, it seems per­fectly nat­ural to find the reflec­tion of sea waves on the ceil­ing of an attic. How delight­ful it must be to stretch in a bed with the upside-down image of the Empire State Build­ing in mid­town Man­hat­tan hov­er­ing over one’s head! Morell’s is a magic real­ist show. Noth­ing is quite what it appears to be. Mirage and real­ity per­form side by side, pro­vid­ing new aes­thetic expe­ri­ence for the viewer.” —Charles Simic


 BOOKS FEATURINg work by ABELARDO MORELL

 

 

Art Can Help

by Robert Adams

Yale University Press, 2017

Purchase

Distributed for the Yale University Art Gallery A collection of inspiring essays by the photographer Robert Adams, who advocates the meaningfulness of art in a disillusioned society  In Art Can Help, the internationally acclaimed American photographer Robert Adams offers over two dozen meditations on the purpose of art and the responsibility of the artist. In particular, Adams advocates art that evokes beauty without irony or sentimentality, art that “encourages us to gratitude and engagement, and is of both personal and civic consequence.” Following an introduction, the book begins with two short essays on the works of the American painter Edward Hopper, an artist venerated by Adams. The rest of this compilation contains texts—more than half of which have never before been published—that contemplate one or two works by an individual artist. The pictures discussed are by noted photographers such as Julia Margaret Cameron, Emmet Gowin, Dorothea Lange, Abelardo Morell, Edward Ranney, Judith Joy Ross, John Szarkowski, and Garry Winogrand. Several essays summon the words of literary figures, including Virginia Woolf and Czeslaw Milosz. Adams’s voice is at once intimate and accessible, and is imbued with the accumulated wisdom of a long career devoted to making and viewing art. This eloquent and moving book champions art that fights against disillusionment and despair.


The Miracle of Analogy: or The History of Photography, Part I

by Kaja Silverman

Stanford University Press, 2015

Purchase

The Miracle of Analogy is the first of a two-volume reconceptualization of photography. It argues that photography originates in what is seen, rather than in the human eye or the camera lens, and that it is the world’s primary way of revealing itself to us. Neither an index, representation, nor copy, as conventional studies would have it, the photographic image is an analogy. This principle obtains at every level of its being: a photograph analogizes its referent, the negative from which it is generated, every other print that is struck from that negative, and all of its digital “offspring.”

Photography is also unstoppably developmental, both at the level of the individual image and of medium. The photograph moves through time, in search of other “kin,” some of which may be visual, but others of which may be literary, architectural, philosophical, or literary. Finally, photography develops with us, and in response to us. It assumes historically legible forms, but when we divest them of their saving power, as we always seem to do, it goes elsewhere.

The present volume focuses on the nineteenth century and some of its contemporary progeny. It begins with the camera obscura, which morphed into chemical photography and lives on in digital form, and ends with Walter Benjamin. Key figures discussed along the way include Nicéphore Niépce, Louis Daguerre, William Fox-Talbot, Jeff Wall, and Joan Fontcuberta.


Seeing Things jpgSeeing Things: A Kid’s Guide to Looking at Photographs

by Joel Meyerowitz

Aperture 2016

Purchase

Aimed at children between the ages of nine and twelve, Seeing Things is a wonderful introduction to photography that asks how photographers transform ordinary things into meaningful moments. In this book, acclaimed and beloved photographer Joel Meyerowitz takes readers on a journey through the power and magic of photography: its abilities to freeze time, tell a story, combine several layers into one frame, and record life’s fleeting and beautiful moments. The book features the work of masters such as William Eggleston, Mary Ellen Mark, Helen Levitt, and Walker Evans, among many others. Each picture is accompanied by a short commentary, encouraging readers to look closely and use their imagination to understand key ideas in photography such as light, gesture, composition—and, ultimately, how there is wonder all around us when viewed through the lens.


picturing americas national parks

Picturing America’s National Parks

by Jamie M. Allen

George Eastman Museum/ Aperture,  New York  2016

Purchase

“The images in this book take us on [a] journey, from the first mammoth-view photographs of Yosemite to digital images shared through social media. They show us the intertwined histories of photography and America’s national parks. Without photography, our understanding of these inherently visual spaces would be limited to descriptive words and artists’ renderings. From its inception, photography has often been understood as truth, or pure documentation of the world. Through images of the national parks, photography can concurrently be understood as a filter that encourages our passion for these spaces and perpetuates their iconic status. Over the years, our views of the landscape have undoubtedly been shaped by those that came before. The vistas first captured by nineteenth-century explorers still influence people today who visit the parks to partake in the view themselves. Photography has created what we expect to see and compels us to capture your own memories last these sites. Our experience of the parks is so connected to photography that we cannot escape the feeling of being inside a photograph in some these iconic places…” —Jamie M. Allen


emanations coverEmanations: The Art of the Cameraless Photograph

By Geoffrey Batchen

Prestel, New York, 2016

Purchase

An unparalleled exploration of the art of cameraless photography, this expansive book offers an authoritative and lavishly illustrated history of photography made without a camera, along with a critical discussion of the practice. Since the early 19th century and the invention of photography, artists have been experimenting with various methods for creating photographs without a camera. At once exhaustive and compelling, this book reveals the myriad approaches artists have used to create photographic images using just paper and a source of radiation. Simultaneously a chronological history and a thematic study, this book explores a range of practices, some of which have been in use for more than a century, while others are entirely contemporary. From placing objects on light-sensitive paper and drawing on blackened glass plates to radiography, photocopying, and digital scanning, this is an elemental kind of photography that repudiates the idea that technology advances in only one direction. By eliminating the camera, artists are able to focus on other ways of making photographic pictures. They allow the world to leave its own imprint, to speak for itself as itself. This volume includes 160 exquisitely reproduced works of this kind. In turns abstract and realist, haunting and intricate, they seem to capture the very essence of their subjects. Featuring artists from the 19th century to today, this book explores cameraless photography as an important and influential medium that deserves to be included at the forefront of today’s conversations about contemporary art.


Mirada InteriorMirada Interior Centenario de “Parque Florido” Sede de la Fundación Lazaro Galdiano

Pub­lished by the Fon­da­cion Lazaro Gal­diano and Sociedad Estatal de Con­mem­o­ra­ciones Culturales, 2013

Purchase

“The halls of muse­ums such as the Lazaro Gal­diano are priv­i­leged places in which to enjoy the dia­logue between times, cre­ators and cit­i­zens. Its founder brought together in his col­lec­tions excep­tional pieces from very dif­fer­ent peri­ods, rang­ing from archae­ol­ogy to his own con­tem­po­raries. In 2009 we cel­e­brated the cen­ten­nial of the cre­ation of the build­ing that houses these col­lec­tions, hold­ings that are among the jew­els of Span­ish artis­tic and cul­tural her­itage. The project Inte­rior Gaze, orga­nized by two insti­tu­tions attached to the Min­istry of Cul­ture, the Lazaro Gal­diano Foun­da­tion and the State Agency of Cul­tural Com­mem­o­ra­tions (SECC), rein­forces this rela­tion­ship between yesterday’s gaze, that of the col­lec­tor, and today’s, that of five of the most out­stand­ing con­tem­po­rary inter­na­tional pho­tog­ra­phers. And it does so with that will for per­ma­nence so akin to the museum idea: through a pub­li­ca­tion that goes beyond the tem­po­ral­ity of an exhi­bi­tion”

—Intro­duc­tion from the Min­istry of Culture


The Island of RotaThe Island of Rota

Photographs by Abelardo Morell. Design by Ted Muehling. Intro­duc­tion by Oliver Sacks.

Library Council, Museum of Modern Art. New York 2010

 

The Island of Rota unites the work of the photographer Abelardo Morell, the designer Ted Muehling, and the neurologist and wroter Olivers Sacks in a limited edition publication that considers the unique natural history of a particular island in Micronesia. Sack’s text is excerpted from his book The Island of the Colorblind, which takes its name from its study of a Micronesian island population that harbors an extreme form of color blindness–a handicap for which the islanders are compensated with a heightened perception of pattern, shadow, texture, and tone. While visiting this community, Sacks took a botanical side trip to the island of Rota, home to an astonishing array of ferns and cycads. Inspired by Sack’s observation on color blindness as well as by his description of the plant life of Rota, Morell and Muehling have created a tactile volume in black-and-white and sepia that reconceives the author’s text and responds to his sense of deep geological and botanical time. Morell has made thirteen cliché-verres, images made by hand in ink and   plant matter on glass and then digitally printed as photographs. Twelve are bound into the book: the thirteenth is placed loose in the book’s box.


cuba on the vergeCuba on the Verge: An Island in Transition

By Terry McCoy. Intro­duc­tion by William Kennedy
Bulfinch Press, New York 2003

Purchase

“As Kennedy explains, this col­lec­tion of essays and pho­tographs by Cubans, Cubans in exile and inter­ested Amer­i­cans isn’t so much about the pol­i­tics of Cuba as ‘the con­se­quence of pol­i­tics to Cuba.’ While its struc­ture is sim­ple enough-short essays on themes like spir­i­tu­al­ity, the new mid­dle class and rural life cou­pled with sets of pho­tos, intro­duced by artists’ statements-its tex­ture is delight­fully var­ied and idio­syn­cratic… The kalei­do­scope of images — Vir­ginia Beahan’s breath­tak­ingly empty land­scapes, Sylvia Plachy’s vibrant urban scenes, Abelardo Morell’s haunt­ing cam­era obscura pro­jec­tions of cityscapes on interiors-will open read­ers’ eyes to a coun­try not so much ‘third world’ as ‘other world.’” —Publisher’s Weekly


A Camera In A RoomA Camera In A Room

Smith­son­ian “Pho­tog­ra­phers at Work” Series. Pho­tographs by Abelardo Morell. Inter­view and Essay by Richard B. Woodward.
Smith­son­ian Insti­tu­tion Press, Wash­ing­ton, D.C. 1995

Purchase

“Abelardo Morell has dis­tin­guished him­self in the ‘90s as an artist of unique tech­ni­cal ele­gance and resource­full­ness … Not only has he taken star­tling pic­tures unlike any oth­ers in the his­tory of pho­tog­ra­phy, but he has done so within the con­fines of a ‘straight’ aes­thetic, with­out resort­ing to the stale tricks of sur­re­al­ist col­lage or com­put­er­ized post­mod­ern manip­u­la­tion.” —Richard Woodward