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 in 1977 from Bowdoin College and an MFA from The Yale University School of Art in 1981. In 1997, he received an honorary degree from Bowdoin College.
He has received a number of awards and grants, which include a Cintas grant in 1992, a Guggenheim fellowship in 1994, a Rappaport Prize in 2006, and an Alturas Foundation grant in 2009 to photograph the landscape of West Texas.
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 over seventy other museums in the United States and abroad. A retrospective of his work organized jointly by the Art Institute of Chicago and the Getty will be on view in the summer of 2013.
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. Upcoming publications include a limited edition book by The Museum of Modern Art in New York of his Cliché Verre images with a text by Oliver Sacks.
He lives with his wife, Lisa McElaney, a filmmaker, and his children Brady and Laura, in Brookline, Massachusetts.