Abelardo Morell: In the Footsteps of Van Gogh
Whenever I see any project produced by artist Abelardo Morell, there is an element of magic and mystery that requires deeper looking and consideration. He sees the world in his own unique voice, making us shift the way we perceive the universe. His new project, On the Ground: In the Footsteps of van Gogh, beautifully uses his tent /camera technique to capture the landscape where Van Gogh created his masterpieces near Arles, France. “I designed this device to allow me, in a periscope-like fashion, to project views of a nearby landscape directly onto the very ground where the tent sits. My camera, on top of the tent, captures a ‘visual sandwich’ comprised of the scenery and the details of the ground all at once, in one picture.” Morell uses the layer of the land to replicate the textures of van Gogh’s paintbrush.
Today he opens an exhibition of this work at the Krakow Witkin Gallery in Boston that will run through February 25, 2023. There is reception with the artist: Saturday, January 14th, 3-5pm and an Artist talk with the artist: Saturday, February 11th, 3 PM.
On the Ground: In the Footsteps of van Gogh
In June 2022, I went to Arles, Saint- Remy and other places in the south of France to make pictures where van Gogh painted. In locating myself within his landscape, I hoped that my pictures would contain – and be touched by – some of the spirit and light in his paintings. Clearly, I did not produce any new “van Goghs,” which is a good thing because I didn’t want to make copies!
Happily, what I came up with was my own take on the light and land in Provence and yet, I think, my landscapes, as different as they may be from the painter’s, still evoke something of his vision. I also believe that some of the images I made suggest the look and atmospheres captured by other 19th century French landscape painters who influenced van Gogh.
The patina and strangeness of the surface that appear in several of my images are products of a photographic tool I call “tent /camera.” I designed this device to allow me, in a periscope-like fashion, to project views of a nearby landscape directly onto the very ground where the tent sits. My camera, on top of the tent, captures a ‘visual sandwich’ comprised of the scenery and the details of the ground all at once, in one picture. And it is in this real/surreal melding of optics, photography and art history where my pictures dwell, creating, I hope a middle world – where both the expansive and the particular can reside at the same time.
Abelardo Morell was born in Havana, Cuba in 1948. He immigrated to the United States with his parents in 1962. Morell received his undergraduate degree from Bowdoin College and his MFA from The Yale University School of Art. He has received an honorary degree from Bowdoin College in 1997 and from Lesley University in 2014. He was professor of Photography at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston from 1983 to 2010.
His publications include a photographic illustration of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1998) by Dutton Children’s Books, A Camera in a Room(1995) by Smithsonian Press, A Book of Books (2002) and Camera Obscura (2004) by Bulfinch Press and Abelardo Morell(2005), published by Phaidon Press. The Universe Next Door(2013), published by The Art Institute of Chicago. Tent-Camera (2018), published by Nazraeli Press. Flowers for Lisa (2018), published by Abrams Books. He has received a number of awards and grants, which include a Guggenheim fellowship in 1994 and an Infinity Award in Art from ICP in 2011. In November 2017, he received a Lucie Award for achievement in fine art. His work has been collected and shown in many galleries, institutions and museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art, the Metropolitan Art Museum in New York, The Chicago Art Institute, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Houston Museum of Art, The Boston Museum of Fine Art, The Victoria & Albert Museum and several other museums in the United States and abroad. A retrospective of his work organized jointly by the Art Institute of Chicago, The Getty in Los Angeles and The High Museum in Atlanta closed in May 2014 after a year of travel. Most recently, his work was included in the exhibition Ansel Adams in Our Time, at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Follow Abelardo Morrell on Instagram: @abelardomorrell
Follow the Krakow Witkin Gallery on InstagramL @krakow.witkin.gallery
Posts on Lenscratch may not be reproduced without the permission of the Lenscratch staff and the photographer.
Abelardo Morell: In the Footsteps of Van GoghJanuary 14th, 2023
Yukimi Akiba: Timeless KnotDecember 24th, 2022
Sara Silks: KaizenDecember 22nd, 2022