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Camera Obscura: The Pantheon in Hotel Albergo del Sole, Room #111, Rome, Italy

  • Accession Number:
  • Artist:
    Morell, Abelardo
  • Date:
  • Medium:
    Inkjet print
  • Dimensions:
    image: 24 in x 30 ⅞ in; paper: 31 ½ in x 38 ⅝ in; frame: 34 ¾ in x 41 ¾ in
  • Credit Line:
    Museum purchase

About the Photographer

Morell, Abelardo

American, b. 1948 Cuba

The camera obscura is a device that enables an artist or draftsman to see an inverted image of the living world on a plane surface. The guiding principle of the camera obscura, which literally means, "dark chamber" is that light entering a room or camera from a single point creates an image of the exterior world. Used since the Renaissance, the camera obscura was one tool with which artists were able to accurately or realistically manage perspectivally difficult scenes or subjects. In Camera Obscura Image of Houses Across the Street in Our Bedroom, Abelardo Morell employs the principles of this optical device to set up an inverted image of his street on his bedroom wall. In this picture, the entire room functions as a camera, and Morell takes a picture of the phenomenon using an 8 x 10 inch view camera. Thus, the resulting image is a picture of a picture, taken of a camera with a camera. Morell's probing approach to the link between photographic history and optical apparatus is evident in his other works, several of which are pictures of paintings. In these, Morell has taken a picture of the pages of art books that sit on end or at jarring angles to the plane on which the photograph is made. These images conjure up the perspectival challenges faced by artists, artistic notions of abstraction and distortion, and the effect that mechanical reproducibility of images has had on the history of art and image making.

Photographic explorations by Abelardo Morell have transformed ordinary rooms into camera obscura, offered dramatic close-up views of books, and shown water from puzzling perspectives. His diverse photographs have been showcased in many one-person and group exhibitions at such venues as The Art Institute of Chicago; The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Brooklyn Museum, New York; the International Museum of Photography, George Eastman House, Rochester, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, California; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the Smithsonian Institution International Gallery, Washington, DC. Born in 1948 in Cuba, Morell teaches at the Massachusetts College of Art, Boston. His book of camera obscura photographs, A Camera in a Room, was published in 1995.