See below for images of photographer Wayne Lawrence’s Orchard Beach on view on the 5th floor of the FLAAG Art Foundation in Chelsea. ROSEGALLERY will be featuring works from Orchard Beach at PULSE Miami December 5-8. Come by and see the work in person at Booth A102!
William Eggleston At Zenith Signing at Gagosian NY
Although he is a man of remarkably few words, William Eggleston most resembles the gallant Southern rascal of his reputation when he is reclining, his legs scissored, a rapt audience before him—in other words, when it looks as if he is about to spin a great yarn. So the Memphis photographer sat, last week, before an expectant huddle of family members and advisors, in the private library of Gagosian Gallery’s Madison Avenue offices in New York. Upstairs in the gallery, “At Zenith,” a show of Eggleston’s photographs of the cerulean sky first taken during the late ’70s, but little seen since, had just been installed. (The exhibition opened on Saturday, October 25.) Easing into a sofa, Eggleston, 74, noted his pleasure at the way the pictures looked on the walls, but otherwise appeared very comfortable saying very little. A photographer of the everyday epiphany, Eggleston is also a master of the excruciatingly grand pause. At last, he announced, “I’ll see my great friend Ed Ruscha tonight.” Later that evening, Ruscha was to be honored at the Whitney Museum’s annual gala, where he singled out Eggleston for an unofficial “suave man award.” For Eggleston, that was something of a life achievement honor. His persona as a rakish Southern gentleman of enormous persuasion—on the art world, on photographers and filmmakers, on women throughout his life—was formed early on.
On this afternoon, Eggleston was dressed in a navy-blue suit, white shirt, gleaming black loafers, and an extra-wide striped prep tie that he’d flipped about his neck with nonchalant élan, like a scarf. His silvery hair was neatly slicked back. “If I was as dramatic-looking as Bill Eggleston,” Ruscha once remarked, “I’d probably do nothing but photograph myself.” Eggleston first turned his camera heaven-wards while driving under the big Southern sky, on a 1978 road trip from Georgia to Memphis with the music writer Stanley Booth. “I just looked out the window,” Eggleston said, pointing his index finger towards the ceiling, “and there it was!” Initially, he shot the passing clouds from the car with a Polaroid camera. “They looked like frescoes,” he said. The overhead shots he subsequently took with his Kodak while prone on the ground have the same painterly quality that made Eggleston’s color photography so pioneering early on. These cloud pictures were first collected in 1979 in Wedgwood Blue; the series has now been collected into a new volume from Steidl, William Eggleston: At Zenith. (Eggleston will be signing copies tonight at the Gagosian Shop.) The book is dedicated to John Szarkowski—the late MOMA curator who first exposed Eggleston’s radical work to an art world that had previously regarded color photography as a commercial vulgarity—and opens with a W.B. Yeats poem. Eggleston’s son Wlliam, arriving with a galley of the book, implored his father to read the passage aloud for his audience. “You have such a great voice, Dad.” Eggleston made a brief show of protest—his eyes are not so great, and he did not have his reading glasses on hand—but soon he picked up the book. He cleared his throat, and began: “‘Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths/Enwrought with golden and silver light …’” As he continued on, Eggleston’s previously matter-of-fact voice took on a roguish warmth, as if he were regaling an entire Memphis bar with a story he knew was bound to kill. “‘… I have spread my dreams under your feet/Tread softly because you tread on my dreams,’” he finished, his eyes crinkling, and the room broke into applause. To read the feature on W online, please click here.
AMERICA LATINA, 1960–2013
From November 19, 2013 to April 6, 2014, the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain will present América Latina 1960-2013, coproduced with the Museo Amparo in Puebla (Mexico). The exhibition will offer a new perspective on Latin American photography from 1960 to today, focusing on the relationship between text and the photographic image.
Bringing together more than seventy artists from eleven different countries, it reveals the great diversity of photographic practices by presenting the work of documentary photographers as well as that of contemporary artists who appropriate the medium in different ways.
This unique presentation will provide the visitor with the opportunity to delve into the history of the region and to rediscover the works of major artists rarely exhibited in Europe.
Latin America : a Fascinating Region
Over centuries, Latin America has fascinated observers as much as it has mystified them; there is a sense of the exotic that derives perhaps from it having once been perceived as a “new world.” Today, while contemporary Latin American culture has received much attention, the historical circumstances surrounding its production are often less widely explored.
The exhibition América Latina will cover the period from 1960 – the year following the Cuban revolution – to today. In many Latin American countries, this period has been marked by political and economic instability, and has seen a succession of revolutionary movements and repressive military regimes, the emergence of guerilla movements as well as transitions toward democracy. By exploring the interaction between text and image in the art of Latin America over the course of the last fifty years, the exhibition provides a vivid look into this tumultuous period of history through the eyes of the artists.
Photography and Text in a Shifting World
During the era covered by the exhibition, when the climate of political upheaval required an urgent response, many Latin American artists increasingly sought to escape media specificity by bringing text and image together in their work. This new visual approach provided them with an effective tool for expressing themselves and communicating, as photography is a medium that rapidly and realistically records reality while text provides a way of expanding or altering the meaning of the image. Through these formalistic inventions the artists tried to portray the complexity and violence of the world around them and in some cases to sidestep censorship. In the 1980s the Chilean artist Eugenio Dittborn created ‘‘airmail paintings’’ which were folded up and sent all over the world, circumventing Chile’s cultural isolation under Pinochet. As for Miguel Rio Branco, a figurehead of Brazilian photography, he has depicted the underclass of a two-tiered society in a highly poetic manner.
Elías ADASME (Chili), Carlos ALTAMIRANO (Chili), Francis ALŸS (Mexique), Claudia ANDUJAR (Brésil), Antonio Manuel (Brésil), Ever ASTUDILLO (Colombie), Artur BARRIO (Brésil), Luz María BEDOYA (Pérou), Iñaki BONILLAS (Mexique), Oscar BONY (Argentine), Barbara BRÄNDLI (Venezuela), Marcelo BRODSKY (Argentine), Miguel CALDERÓN (Mexique), Johanna CALLE (Colombie), Luis CAMNITZER (Uruguay), Bill CARO (Pérou), Graciela CARNEVALE et le Grupo de Artistas de Vanguardia (Argentine), Fredi CASCO (Paraguay), Guillermo DEISLER (Chili), Eugenio DITTBORN (Chili), Juan Manuel ECHAVARRÍA (Colombie), Eduardo Rubén (Cuba), Felipe EHRENBERG (Mexique), Robert FANTOZZI (Pérou), León FERRARI (Argentine), José A. FIGUEROA (Cuba), Flavia GANDOLFO (Pérou), Carlos GARAICOA (Cuba), Paolo GASPARINI (Venezuela), Anna Bella GEIGER (Brésil), Carlos GINZBURG (Argentine), Daniel GONZÁLEZ (Venezuela), Jonathan HERNÁNDEZ (Mexique), Graciela ITURBIDE (Mexique), Guillermo IUSO (Argentine), Alejandro JODOROWSKY (Chili), Claudia JOSKOWICZ (Bolivie), Marcos KURTYCZ (Mexique), Suwon LEE (Venezuela), Adriana LESTIDO (Argentine),Marcos LÓPEZ (Argentine), Pablo LÓPEZ LUZ (Mexique), Rosario LÓPEZ PARRA (Colombie), LOST ART (Brésil), Jorge MACCHI (Argentine), Teresa MARGOLLES (Mexique), Agustín MARTÍNEZ CASTRO (Mexique), Marcelo MONTECINO (Chili), Oscar MUÑOZ (Colombie), Helio OITICICA (Brésil), Damián ORTEGA (Mexique), Pablo ORTIZ MONASTERIO (Mexique), Leticia PARENTE (Brésil), Luis PAZOS (Chili), Claudio PERNA (Venezuela), Rosângela RENNÓ (Brésil), Miguel RIO BRANCO (Brésil), Herbert RODRÍGUEZ (Pérou), Juan Carlos ROMERO (Argentine), Lotty ROSENFELD (Chili), Graciela SACCO (Argentine), Maruch SÁNTIZ GÓMEZ (Mexique), Vladimir SERSA (Venezuela), Regina SILVEIRA (Brésil), Milagros DE LA TORRE (Pérou), Susana TORRES (Pérou), Sergio TRUJILLO DÁVILA (Colombie), Jorge VALL (Venezuela), Leonora VICUÑA (Chili), Eduardo VILLANES (Pérou), Luiz ZERBINI (Brésil), Facundo DE ZUIVIRÍA (Argentine)
To read more about this exhibition, please click here.
Although my work outwardly seems to vary over many years, there are certain links running through all of it. I consistently want to make things that satisfy my sense of beauty. I respond to the tactile nature of things. Another element that pervades it is tension or anxiety. These elements always live within me and are present in all my art.
-Jo Ann Callis
Callis began her art studies in Ohio in the 1950s, as a high school student in Cincinnati and in college at Ohio State University in Columbus. However, her academic work was interrupted by marriage, a move to Los Angeles, and child rearing. After the interruption, she returned and studied under Robert Heineken and would emerge, in late 1970s, as one of the first important practitioners of the “fabricated photographs” movement. Callis began teaching at the California Institute of the Arts (Cal Arts) in 1976. Callis is represented by ROSEGALLERY in Los Angeles.
Mark Cohen: The Photographer Who Literally Shoots from the Hip
“If you have your camera up to your eye, you can’t keep track of what’s going on,” says photographer Mark Cohen. “By holding my camera down here” – he gestures to his waist – “I can suddenly take pictures.” Cohen has a peculiar style of shooting: he does it secretly, and always at hip level. Working like a sniper, he gets close, snaps low, then moves away before anyone has the chance to bristle. “There’s no conversation,” he says. “I’m not interested in having to explain myself. I’m just using people on the street in the most transitory way.”
Cohen has been pursuing scrappy street photography in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, for 55 years, ever since he received a plastic camera at the age of 13. “I don’t take my camera everywhere,” he says. “I go for designated walks where I’m just taking pictures.” A selection of images, culled from his years of walking around the industrial town, is now on display with Dark Knees, an exhibition at LE BAL in Paris, and available as a photobook.
Cohen likes to keep his wits about him while he walks, and finds that holding the camera low allows him to be extra watchful for antagonists. But his furtive shooting technique has always been laced with danger. One of his images is of a man, angered by the invasion of his personal space, swinging a punch at Cohen (Man Flinching, 1969). “That type of interaction took a psychological toll over the years,” he says. “I made a lot of nifty pictures by being that close to people. But after a while, I went to a wider lens. 28mm. Then 35mm. Now I’m at 50mm, so I feel very safe.”
But isn’t getting audaciously close, almost predatory, integral to his work? “The trespass makes it happen, yes,” he says. “When you’re trying to make a new object, you’ve got to make something happen. And you learn to read people’s reactions quickly.” After all these years, honing in on details to find images has become automatic. “Here’s a wonderful button – I love to see the buttons come out,” he says, examining his silver print of a lady’s coat. Or, of Seedpod in the Snow (1978), he comments that the orderly row of kernels “look like they’re on a bus”. The titles of the images – Wisp of Hair, Red Bow/Bare Back,Shirtless Boy with Chain – emphasise his powerful fixations.
For years, Cohen’s approach was to shoot three rolls of film over a two-hour walk, develop the rolls directly, have dinner, then go back to the darkroom, develop eight to nine prints directly from the negatives, and cast aside the rest. Cohen did this several times a week for decades. He estimates he has 600,000-800,000 images that he’s never seen or developed, not even on contact sheets.
“It’s something I’ve never encountered before,” marvels Diane Dufour, the curator of the LE BAL show. “And it’s something I have trouble understanding. It’s almost vertiginous to think of the number of photos we could have selected just from the negatives Mark has never seen.” Cohen has recently revisited some of his overlooked images. He’s even compiled a dummy book of rediscovered pictures, tentatively called No Contact No Print, which is how he classifies the forsaken negatives.
The 1970s were a notable era for Cohen. His photos were showcased in an expo at MoMA in 1973 under John Szarkowski, and he regularly showed new work at galleries, though he always retreated back to Wilkes-Barre. Removing himself from the New York scene gave him a “purity”, he says, by virtue of “not having a personality so involved in the dissemination of work”. But by his own admission, he “dropped out” in the late 80s.
“Gallerists couldn’t sell my stuff,” he says matter-of-factly. “My work’s not the most optimistic. It’s not like Yosemite.” The framing is unexpected and the subjects sometimes gritty. Cohen often photographed the poorer neighbourhoods in his area because they were “more exposed”: children playing outside, people lingering in the streets. “This guy’s teeth are so terrible,” he says, looking at the craggy, not-so-pearly-whites inLaughing Man’s Teeth (1976). “This”, he says,”is not right for someone’s living room”. Though gallery interest waned, it didn’t put a dint in his productivity.
He moved to Philadelphia six months ago, and is still acclimatising to living in a metropolitan space for the first time. But he still operates in exactly the same way, going on single-minded photographic missions: “I get on a trolley and go to a specific intersection. I like to go to the same one 10 times, so I understand the texture of the neighbourhood,” he says. As for Wilkes-Barre, he sees no need to dwell on it any more: “The slice of America I’ve been looking at is everywhere.”
To visit The Guardian website and read the article in its entirety, please click here.
ROSEGALLERY will be exhibiting classic works by Mark Cohen in Booth C9 at Paris Photo 2013.
ROSEGALLERY is pleased to be working with photographer Wayne Lawrence, who is part of the 5th Annual FLAG Art Fair in Brooklyn, NY. Lawrence’s work will be on view from October 5 through December 14.
Lawrence, who is included in the ‘emerging artists’ group show, has a dedicated floor of his work curated by Awol FLAG Art Foundation celebrates its 5th anniversary this fall with two exhibitions Cecily Brown, Untitled (Blood Thicker than Mud), 2012. Oil on linen, 109 x 171 inches. Photo ©Cecily Brown. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery. Photograph by Robert McKeever. Share on facebook Share on twitter Share on email Share on print Share on gmail More Sharing Services 4 NEW YORK, NY.- The FLAG Art Foundation celebrates its 5th anniversary this fall. To commemorate this milestone, the 9th floor features a 5th Anniversary Group Exhibition and on the 10th floor, Images of Venus from Wayne Lawrence’s Orchard Beach: The Bronx Riviera curated by Awol Erizku. Both exhibitions are on view October 5 through December 14. FLAG has organized 30 exhibitions since it opened to the public in 2008. FLAG would like to thank the curators and artists for their participation. Their vision and talent have been invaluable and has impacted thousands of viewers. FLAG remains committed to its mission to encourage the appreciation of contemporary art among a diverse audience. Through the duration of the exhibitions, FLAG will host a series of salon events to thank FLAG’s supporters and welcome new viewers. In the spirit of FLAG’s focus on collaboration, the events will intersect art with performance, fashion, food, and more. 9th floor The 5th Anniversary Group Exhibition includes 15 emerging and established artists, the majority of whom have previously shown at FLAG. Cecily Brown • Marc Dennis • Ellen Gallagher • Jane Hammond • Nir Hod • Jim Hodges • Wayne Lawrence • Josephine Meckseper • Julie Mehretu • Chris Ofili • Ged Quinn • Charles Ray • Gerhard Richter • Jeff Sonhouse • Mathew Weir 10th floor Identifying and promoting emerging talent is core to FLAG’s program.
FLAG presents Images of Venus from Wayne Lawrence’s Orchard Beach: The Bronx Riviera curated by artist Awol Erizku. Awol exhibited in FLAG’s 2011 Art² and 2013 personal, political, mysterious exhibitions. The Orchard Beach series resonates with Awol’s approach to portraiture. When discussing Wayne’s work, Awol notes it quotes both photography and painting and that it both engages and leaves the spectator wanting to see more. The images are subtle yet confrontational; this aspect of the artist’s image making enables him to navigate two complementary axes-as a form of documentation and as a reference to classical portraiture.
“Originally from St. Kitts, West Indies, I immigrated to the United States almost 20 years ago, settling in Los Angeles, California, where I worked as a commercial carpenter for five years. In my mid-twenties, while searching for new direction in my life, I discovered the autobiography of Gordon Parks, A Choice of Weapons, along with the work of Richard Avedon and Eli Reed at the local library. As an immigrant searching for my place within American society, I immediately identified parallels within Parks’ life story and my own journey. The inherent emotion in Reed and Avedon’s work was palpable, and I felt immediately that I, too, could master this new language of photography. For the first time I was faced with imagery that dealt with the human condition, and I committed to use photography as a tool for my own personal education and to confront long-standing ideas about race and class. In 2002, while continuing my pursuit of photographic education in California, I received news that my older brother, David, had been murdered back home in St. Kitts. This tragedy marked a major turning point in my journey, and photography became an integral part of my healing process. With the realization that my life’s work, my survival, would require a heightened level of personal engagement, I gave up the isolation I had always felt in Los Angeles and relocated to the bustling streets and diverse culture of New York City. With a new sense of purpose, over the next six years I began focusing my lens on the only beach in New York’s Bronx, Orchard Beach. Although the Bronx is considered one of the most diverse communities in America, its image has been largely defined by the urban blight that the city endured during the late 1960’s through the 1980’s when arson, drug addiction, and social neglect decimated many of its neighborhoods. Built in the 1930’s, Orchard Beach, or ‘Chocha Beach’ as it is commonly known, remains an oasis for generations of Bronx families but is stigmatized as one of the worst beaches in New York. My personal experience of Orchard Beach, however, has been one of the most fulfilling of my life, and I have strived over many years to create an honorable representation of the community there. Orchard Beach consists of portraits of proud men and women with audacious attitude, loving couples, and families at play. In this work I am interested in challenging the stereotypes associated with working-class people by highlighting themes of community, cultural pride and the individuals’ quest for identity.” – Wayne Lawrence
We are pleased to announce that we will be showing selections from ‘The Non-Conformists’ at Paris Photo this year. We hope you can join us and see this fantastic work in person! Not going to be in Paris? Visit TIME LightBox to view some a slideshow of selected works from this series. To purchase a copy of The Non-Conformists, click here.
“In the 70s, in Britain, if you were going to do serious photography, you were obliged to work in black-and-white,” master photographer Martin Parr tells TIME. “Color was the palette of commercial photography and snapshot photography.”
“It’s only late in the decade that we began to see color photographers being shown in museums — like Eggleston and Stephen Shore,” he adds. “I took note of that and got excited.”
A few years later, in 1982, Parr made the switch from monochrome and never went back. To the many fans who have come to know his work over the last three decades in color, it may come as a surprise encountering Parr’s first major project in black-and-white. The Non-Conformists finally finds closure over 35 years after it was started with the publication this month of his latest monograph from Aperture.
It was 1975, and two years out of art school, Parr moved from the gritty, bustling city of Manchester to a picturesque mill town in the English countryside called Hebden Bridge. There, he found a traditional way of life in decline. Factories were closing, industry was leaving and the town was gentrifying. A new community was emerging made up of “incomers — youthful artistic refugees… in search of alternative lifestyles and cheap housing,” Parr’s wife Susie writes in her introduction to the book.
With four other artists, he opened up a storefront workshop and darkroom in the middle of town. Equipped with a Leica and a single lens, he took to the streets and began one of his earliest extended photographic studies.
“Places change all the time and the type of people who live there change. I was not so much looking at the new incomers,” of which he was a part, “but at the traditional lifestyle there.”
He would wander around, attend events listed in the local paper, and on Sundays, go to services at the Non-Conformist churches which were all over town. In these chapels, which had historically distanced themselves from the rules of the Church of England, he and his wife, who had been working on an accompanying text for his pictures, found the focus for the body of work.
“There’s a certain independent spirit these Non-Conformists have, which not only gave the chapels their names,” — like the Mount Zion Strict and Particular Baptist Chapel — “but was also very emblematic of the fading attitude of the whole place,” he says.
Parr’s photographs in which he aimed to capture that attitude reveal a greatly skilled young documentary photographer with a keen eye for British quirk, anticipating the tremendously poignant sense of humor for which he has become known. There is great wit in these images, but it’s more subtle and less sardonic than his later saturated color work; it seems above all, affectionate.
“Black-and-white is certainly more nostalgic, by nature,” he says. “My black-and-white work is more of a celebration and the color work became more of a critique of society.”
Parr and his wife, whom he had married in Hebden Bridge, became very active in the community during their documentation, if at first only to gain trust and access. Some church members mistook their interest as one in keeping the chapel life going in the future. The documentation came to an end, however, and the Parrs moved on. By the late 90s, most of the chapels had closed and the communities disappeared. Hebden Bridge today, “sandblasted and quaint,” his wife writes, “is a lesbian stronghold and a lively commuter town to professionals working in Leeds, Bradford and Manchester.”
“We did this photographic documentation and that’s all that’s left,” Parr says. “Virtually everyone in the photographs is dead now. It was just another era. But that’s the great thing about photographs; they’re there forever.”
Martin Parr is a British documentary photographer, photojournalist and photobook collector. The Non-Conformists is available through Aperture from October 2013. The work will also be on view at Media Space in London through March 16, 2014.
Read more: http://lightbox.time.com/2013/10/21/the-non-conformists-martin-parrs-early-work-in-black-and-white/#ixzz2iUBJNHSX
Keynote lecture available to passholders only. To purchase your tickets, click here.
To learn more about the Medium Festival click here.
We had a great time with Tomoko Sawada at the opening of her ROSEGALLERY exhibition SIGN. Didn’t make it to our opening? See pictures below from our evening with Tomoko. If you have not checked out our exhibition, you will have until November 16 to stop by the gallery and see Tomoko’s latest work.
Abelardo Morell went from a small Cuban beach town to New York City in 1962. The streets and its people were chaotic, unfamiliar and overwhelming to a 14-year-old exile who barely spoke English.
“Suddenly, I’m in the biggest city in the world and it’s crazy,” he recalled. “I remember feeling this is more than I can ever comprehend.”
Photography helped him start sorting it out, as he made street pictures in the tradition of Garry Winogrand and Lee Friedlander. But it wasn’t until 1991 that he discovered how to tame the urban landscape.
He crammed it into a room.
Converting a room into a huge camera obscura — a centuries-old optical technique that predates the pinhole camera — he took eight-hour exposures of interiors where the outside world was projected onto the walls. The results — as in the Times Square cityscape rich with kinetic detail that he did for The New York Times Magazine — were stunning and surreal. They combined the expanse of the street with the monastic quiet of a small, darkened space.
“In these New York camera obscura pictures there is a psychological component,” he said. “It’s encompassing something so big in something more knowable. To domesticate New York, so to speak.”
Those are apt sentiments about his own work, which spans 30 years and features everything from camera obscura and “tent camera” pictures to scenes from home and visual meditations on everyday objects, like books or money. The result is “The Universe Next Door,” a traveling retrospective that opens Tuesday at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, where Mr. Morell’s sizable oeuvre becomes knowable.
“One of the most significant things about Morell is that he is grounded in the past but is also looking forward,” said Paul Martineau, the Getty’s associate curator of photographs. “One of the things that struck me about his work, which I saw years ago before I even knew I wanted to be a curator, was the authenticity of his work. He remained true to himself and did not chase the market.”
The market has since caught up.
New York was fateful for him and his family. His father, who had been in the Cuban Navy, settled in New York, where he worked as the superintendent of five buildings on the West Side. His son and namesake attended public schools, thinking he would be an engineer.
“New York forced me to understand the United States and this new culture aggressively,” Mr. Morell said. “It was scary, but wonderful, too. There was incredible activity and sights. Then I went to Maine and that sealed the deal. Maine was a different culture for me.”
It was at Bowdoin College, in Brunswick, Me., where he discovered photography, idolizing those who celebrated “the chaos of the social landscape, the poetry of the street,” like Cartier-Bresson and Helen Levitt.
“I discovered my own language,” he said. “My English was not so good, but my photography seemed sophisticated. My eyes were sophisticated. I had found something important in my life.”
Though he took some time off from college and worked a variety of odd jobs, he returned, earned his degree and eventually enrolled in Yale’s M.F.A. program. He continued to work in the vein of “the street people” — Friedlander and Winogrand. But that changed drastically when he and his wife, Lisa McElaney, had the first of their two children. Being able to spend the day roaming the streets with a camera was not an option. He felt some resentments, but he had to stay indoors.
Then he decided he had to respond to these feelings.
“Maybe instead of taking ironic pictures in the street while hidden, maybe I can slow down and look at things more directly and with love,” he said. “It made me discover the nature of normality and how weird it is, like photographing a baby’s milk bottle. It felt beautiful to try to make a portrait of something so common. The majesty of common things became apparent to me.”
There is a playfulness in some of the pictures, which only makes sense. When Mr. Morell noticed how at a certain time of year the sun cast a shadow on the ground that mimicked his home’s outline, he drew lines in the yard and placed his two children in the scene.
While raising a family, he also taught. In class, he demonstrated the basics of optics by covering the windows, cutting a hole and turning his classroom into a pinhole camera. That exercise got him to thinking about taking pictures inside a camera obscura, which led to the panoramas that caught people’s attention in the 1990s.
If fatherhood slowed him down, this new technique took it to a new level. Using a 4-by-5 film camera set up inside the room, it took him eight hours to make a single exposure.
“I like that it took eight hours,” he said. “I come from a working-class background, and that seems like a good amount of time to be working. I’d start in the morning, leave and go see a movie, a show at the Met or have lunch. It’s a weird experience knowing I’m making a picture, but it’s not like Garry Winogrand in the street. It was something cooking.”
Over the years, Mr. Morell has refined his technique, switching to digital and, more recently, devising with his assistant, C. J. Heyliger, the tent camera — a mobile camera obscura that lets him do pictures projected onto the ground via a periscope that peeks out of the tent’s top.
“We’re able to bring images of the surrounding landscape to the ground itself,” he said. “You see horses running or mountains. It felt like another really natural way to marry two outdoor realities. These incredible images are naturally made, and the ground changes all the time. If there is sand or dirt or ice, it changes the nature of the patina on the photographs.”
He jokes that he feels as if he has a foot in the 19th century, like the great photographers of the American West. He is less amused by the expectations some contemporary viewers have that he fit into what they think a Cuban-born artist should be doing. At a talk in Texas, he said, one woman said his work did not feel like that of a Cuban photographer.
“Certain people are put in a ghetto of what we are supposed to be interested in,” he said. “I love having been born in Cuba. But a Cuban can also make pictures of light bulbs. I don’t want to be put in a ghetto that you can only do pictures of old cars.”
Mr. Morell is now working on several new projects and commissions. Next year he plans to go to France with his tent and visit where Monet painted. Soon, he will go to Spain, where he has a commission to render El Greco’s Toledo on the sidewalk. Another commission in Georgia will have him photographing trees in the South.
In Los Angeles, he plans on talking to middle schoolers, especially to encourage the Latino students to explore the world and their options, and not get forced into someone else’s idea of what they cannot — or should — do.
“When this woman told me in Texas that my work did not look like a Cuban’s, I don’t speak for every Cuban, but I came to this country to be free,” he said. “Without meaning to, people try to put you in a ghetto and that is not always helpful.”
To view the article on the New York Time Blog, please click here.