Saturday, January 15, 2011

The example of Morell's glassprints

Abelardo Morell works with the light falling through small holes.  His camera obscura pictures of architecture and Italian piazzas are well-known and deservedly so.  He has also explored photograms and other cameraless techniques, and more recently has done some impressive glassprints, or clichés-verre, in his Island of Rota suite.

Morell, Fern Nine, 2009
Seen as contemporary and shown in the best contemporary venues, like the Bonni Benrubi gallery and MoMA, his work none the less draws heavily on classical themes, Anna Atkins, 19th century botanical illustrations, pressings of flowers.  The use of the glassprint method is appropriate because historical, and also because it allows a great piling-up of imagery and flourish: by using multiple plates or by rearranging the plant and ink materials on one plate repeatedly, he transcends mere illustration to give us considerable depth and wonder.  Glassprint results over the past century have been quite divergent; few would see many similarities between the glassprints of Klee, Picasso, Man Ray, Gyorgy Kepes, or Aris Koutroulis, no more than one would find much in common among photographers or painters of the same period.  Morell's glassprints return us to the earlier state.

And yet a modern sensibility still rules.  He scans his prints, retaining the original as digital file, then prints them as much larger archival pigment prints, possibly on an Epson, in limited editions at 24x20" and 40x30", depending on your taste and pocketbook.

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