Abelardo Morell

Abelardo Morell

Birth and Early Life

Abelardo Morell was born in 1948 in Havana, Cuba. He and his family escaped from Cuba in 1962 and shifted to New York City. As a child he was always fascinated with optics and how images are constructed. He began his career as a photographer by taking pictures of everyday items like a glass bottle, a page of a book, a child’s toy etc. He completed his Bachelor’s degree in Art from a private liberal arts college in 1977. Later, he also got his Masters degree in Fine Arts from Yale university in 1981. Morrel was also awarded an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts degree from Bowdoin College in 1997. He served as a Professor of Photography at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.

Photographic Work

Abelardo Morell is famous in the photographic society for creating camera obscura pictures in various places around the world and taking their photos. In 1991, he wanted to show his students the basic principle of photography like how light passes through an aperture and then how the image is created, he was dazed after he found out what he had just discovered. He soon realized that with this image “Light Bulb” that any area or room can be turned into a camera. He was known for his camera obscuras works around the globe, he has mastered his camera obscura technique over the years and still continues to use what is fundamentally one of the oldest and the most primitive way to make an image. As time passed it became easier to create obscuras photographs than before, it used to take him several hours before digital technology. He is able to show specific times of the day by a single image, moments could be found or located instead of hours passing. He skillfully balances a philosophical approach with a scientific strictness and honoring a support of the arts. Morrell continues to test, create collages, Cliché verre on glass etc.


Abelardo Morell has had a very busy life. He was subject of a 2007 documentary filmed titled “Shadow of the House”. His work includes a numbers of publications and monographs, including the illustration of the famous novel “Alice in Wonderland”. His work has been displayed in numerous private and public collections, which includes the Art Institute in Chicago, Fondation Cartier in Paris, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Victoria and Alberts museum in London.

He has received many awards including The Cintas foundation fellowship in 1992, The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in 1993 and the International Center of Photography’s Infinity Award in 2011. Houk Gallery is his official representative and his first show with them was held at their Zurich, Switzerland location in June, 2013.

Morrel has published a number of books including “A camera in a room” 1995,  “Abelardo Morrel and the camera eye” 1999,  “A book of book” 2002, “Camera obscura” 2004 and “Abelardo Morrel” 2006.

He currently lives with his wife, Lisa McElaney and two children in Brooklyn, Massachusetts.