Lehigh University Art Galleries

Lehigh University

Bethlehem, PA



Abelardo Morell and the Camera Eye


"Abelardo Morell and the Camera Eye" is the first major traveling exhibition to consider the full extent of work by Abelardo Morell (b. 1948, Havana, Cuba). The exhibition presents his three major areas of photographic investigation from the past decade: Optical Phenomena and Everyday Occurrences, the Camera Obscura and Books, Maps and Paintings. The exhibition includes 48 gelatin silver prints and a walk-in camera obscura at Lehigh University Art Galleries. (left: Brady Sitting, 1989)

A 60-page soft-cover catalogue includes 30 duotones and an essay by MoPA Curator Diana Gaston. The exhibition was curated by Gaston and coordinated by the Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, California, in collaboration with the artist.

The exhibition and tour are supported in part by generous grants from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Lawrence S. Coben, the Corky and Carl Foundation, the H. Kenneth Branson Family Fund, The San Diego Foundation Barbara Freeman Fund and the National Endowment for the Arts. (right: Light Bulb, 1991)


About the Camera Obscura Room

A precursor to the modern camera, the camera obscura demonstrates the fundamental principles of photography. The term is Latin, meaning, simply, dark room or chamber. Whether the size of a hand-held box or a large room, the camera obscura reveals the optical phenomenon that occurs when a beam of light enters a darkened space through a small opening. As in a traditional camera, light travels through the opening in straight lines, projecting an inverted image of the outside world onto the opposite wall. Here, inside the camera obscura, the viewer can observe the world as the camera eye sees it.

Abelardo Morell explains: "1 make photographs inside rooms which I darken completely by covering windows with a dark plastic. I then make a small hole in the plastic in one of the windows which faces some interesting view. What happens is that the small amount of light that comes in through the opening will actually produce an upside-down image of the outside world on the opposite wall. My photographic work involves bringing in a camera inside such room and making a long exposure of this effect." (left: Camera Obscura Image of the Empire State Building, 1994)

He adds: "This phenomenon of a small light beam creating images inside dark rooms has been known for a very long lime. During the Renaissance people wrote about this curious occurrence and gave it the name Camera Obscura. Over time artists devised a way to make the "room" smaller and camera obscuras became portable boxes with a lens instead of a hole. These boxes, which artists like Vermeer, Canaletto and much later, Fox Talbot, the British inventor of photography used to picture reality were the forerunners of the modern photographic camera."

All photographs are courtesy of the artist and Bonni Benrubi Gallery, New York.

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This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 3/2/11

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