Gallery to Host Famed Van Gogh Works, Exhibit of Morell Photos

Visitors to the Yale University Art Gallery this summer will have the opportunity to see two of Vincent van Gogh's most renowned paintings side by side and to view the pioneering camera obscura images by contemporary photographer Abelardo Morell.

Visitors to the Yale University Art Gallery this summer will have the opportunity to see two of Vincent van Gogh’s most renowned paintings side by side and to view the pioneering camera obscura images by contemporary photographer Abelardo Morell.

‘Cypresses’ and ‘The Starry Night’

Van Gogh’s “Cypresses” and “The Starry Night” will be shown side by side for the first time in New England June 15-Sept. 7 at the Yale Art Gallery.

Both paintings were completed in June 1889 during the artist’s yearlong confinement at the asylum in Saint-Rémy in southern France.

“The Starry Night” is being lent to the Yale Art Gallery by the Museum of Modern Art, and “Cypresses” is on loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Both works feature the expressive, swirling, gestural strokes for which the artist is famous. Together, the paintings reveal the artist’s vision of Saint-Rémy as he observed the French countryside through his window - by day and by night.

The paintings have attracted record numbers of visitors to their home institutions.

To ensure a pleasant and unrushed experience for gallery visitors, free timed tickets are available. For tickets, visit the gallery’s website:

In conjunction with the installation, the gallery will present a screening of the autobiographical film “Vincent: The Life and Death of Vincent van Gogh,” directed by Paul Cox. The film is an evocation of the life of the once unrecognized painter who became one of the most influential artists in modern history. Screenings of the film will take place Saturday, July 19 and 26, at 2 p.m.

“Van Gogh’s ‘Cypresses’ and ‘The Starry Night’ ” is organized by Jennifer Gross, the Seymour H. Knox Jr. Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Yale Art Gallery. The installation is made possible by an endowment created with a challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Behind the Seen”

“Behind the Seen: The Photographs of Abelardo Morell” provides an in-depth look at the role that artworks and monuments play in the artist’s major photographic series. It is on view June 24-Aug. 10.

Morell is best known for his images of interiors created with the ancient technology of the camera obscura (Latin for “dark chamber”). The camera obscura is a paperless apparatus that was first noted by Aristotle and has since been explored by artists from Leonardo da Vinci to David Hockney.

Since 1991, Morell has become an expert in converting rooms into camera obscuras by blocking out all light sources with the exception of a pinhole opening, which functions as a lens. As light enters the room, an inverted image of the outside world is projected on the opposite wall. Morell records this otherwise ephemeral effect with a long exposure that may last up to eight hours, capturing fluctuations of movement and light over time. The photographs that result superimpose two realities, overlapping exterior with interior, public with private and a two-dimensional projection with three-dimensional reality. In his 1997 “Camera Obscura Image of Times Square in Hotel Room,” for example, a projection of Times Square floods a quiet hotel room with a double bed. The generic features of the room remain visible but recede in the enveloping maelstrom of Times Square.

Approximately 40 images by the artist are on display, featuring Morell’s work in black and white alongside his newest color photographs. Among these are 20 of the camera obscura images. The exhibition also features a special camera obscura room, which invites visitors to enter the space of one of the artist’s pictures.

Morell’s engagement with optics and perception and his penchant for unusual juxtapositions extend through his other series, including his photographs of artworks and monuments. In “Old Travel Scrapbook: Pyramids,” a shadow cast across the opened pages of a book creates a more ethereal pyramid than the ones pictured.

Morell is the current Happy and Bob Doran Artist in Residence at the Yale Art Gallery and is creating new work based on the gallery’s collections. Several recent photographs made at the museum are on view for the first time. In “Nadelman/Hopper - Yale Art Gallery,” a white marble sculptural head by Elie Nadelman appears to merge with Edward Hopper’s painting “Rooms by the Sea,” to the point that the superimposed pieces appear to oscillate between being two separate works of art and a third, newly begotten offspring. These photographs characterize Morell’s work as he moves from an engagement with the history of photography to an exploration of the medium’s relationship to painting.

Morell, who was born in Havana, Cuba, earned his M.F.A. from the Yale School of Art in 1981. He is currently a professor of photography at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. His photographs are included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, among many others.

“Behind the Seen: The Photographs of Abelardo Morell” is organized by Anna Hammond, deputy director for programs and public affairs, and Christine Paglia, the Florence B. Selden Curatorial Intern in the Department of Prints, Drawings and Photographs. The exhibition is made possible by the Janet and Simeon Braguin and Florence B. Selden Funds, with additional support provided by Nancy and Robinson A. Grover B.A. ‘58, M.S.L. ‘75.

On Wednesday, June 25, Morell will present a gallery talk about his work at 12:20 p.m. at the gallery. Paglia will give a talk about the exhibition on Wednesday, June 16, at 12:20 p.m.

A screening of a 2007 documentary about Morell, titled “Shadow of the House,” will take place on Saturday, July 12, at 2 p.m. It will be followed by a talk with the filmmaker, Allie Humenuk.

The Yale University Art Gallery, 1111 Chapel St., is open to the public free of charge Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (Thursday until 8 p.m. Sept.-June); and Sunday 1-6 p.m. For additional information, visit or call (203) 432-0600.

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