Born in Havana in 1948, Abelardo Morell emigrated to the United States in 1962, where, after winning a scholarship to Bowdoin College (a small liberal arts college in Maine), he took his first photography course. There, Morell experimented with a variety of photographic techniques to create surreal effects that reflected his feelings of alienation as a Cuban living abroad. He proceeded to complete the graduate programme at Yale University, where he worked within the framework of Robert Frank and Garry Winogrand’s tradition of black-and-white street photography. In 1983, he began teaching at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston, where he remains a professor.
In 1986, Morell’s fascination with his son engaged a new interest in this domestic environment as a subject. Morell began exploring the world from a child’s perspective - approaching mundane household objects in a new way that challenges the viewer’s perception of reality and how we see it. Morell transforms everyday objects by distorting angles and using extreme close-ups, and by exploiting perspectives that confuse and jar with our expectations.
This preoccupation with reality and illusion is most clearly realised in Morell’s series of ‘camera obscura’ images (long exposure photographs in which the outside world is projected upside down along the walls of the room), his best known and most ambitious series. The distinction between the outside and the domestic world is merged and his preoccupation with the mechanics of human vision and the principles of photography is illuminated.
Morell continues to teach, publish and exhibit his works. His photographs are included in numerous public collections and individual shows, including the major travelling exhibition ’Abelardo Morell and the Camera Eye’ (2002).