Photographic historian, photographer, publisher, collector, and gallerist, Paolo Morello studied at the University Iuav of Venice, the Scuola Normale in Pisa and St John’s College in Oxford. While a student in Venice, he wrote extensively about the History of Museum and Museum Sciences. In 1989, invited to write an essay on Carlo Scarpa’s museums by the magazine ‘Artforum’, he found and published some 300 drawings for one of his most famous projects, that of palazzo Abatellis in Palermo, realized in 1953. For over forty years, those sketches had been intensively hunted for, but considered lost.
From 1998 onward, he pursued and developed his career as a photographic historian. He taught Photography and History of Photography at the universities of Palermo, Bologna, Brescia, Verona, at the Università Ca’ Foscari in Venice, at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan, and from 2001 to 2009 at the Università Iuav in Venice. At the Università Cattolica in Milan, he founded and directed the two-year Master’s course in Photography. From 2001 to 2010 he was contributing editor of the magazine ‘History of Photography’, and from 1999 to 2011 he directed the Istituto Superiore per la Storia della Fotografia. In 2011, he founded Glint, a Publishing company based in London, and in 2012 he founded Studio, a photographic gallery in Palermo.
He is the author of many seminal works on the history of photography in Italy, among them: Enzo Sellerio fotografo. Tre studi siciliani (1998); Briganti (1999); Amen fotografia (2000); Gli Incorpora (2000); Fulvio Roiter (2002); Alfredo Camisa. Carteggio 1955-1963 (2003); Piergiorgio Branzi (2003); Mario De Biasi (2003); Ferruccio Ferroni. Carteggio 1952-1959 (2004); Mario Lasalandra. Poeti, maschere, attori, fantasmi (2005); Gianni Berengo Gardin. Venezia (2006); Mario De Biasi. Budapest 1956 (2006); Carla Cerati. Nudi (2007); Gianni Berengo Gardin. Polesine (2008). In 2008, the Istituto Superiore per la Storia della Fotografia also published his popular Guida pratica al mercato della fotografia (A Practical Handbook to the Photography Market, 2008), and 2010 saw the publication of his ground-breaking twin-volume study La fotografia in Italia.
An enthusiastic patron, over the past fifteen years he has been putting together an outstanding collection of photographs, originally intended to form the first Museum in Italy dedicated to Italian photography. A wide selection of masterworks were exhibited in Paris (2007), Milan (2010), and Moscow (2011). In 2012, Christie’s in London held an auction entirely devoted to it.
As a photographer in his own right, he has focused his efforts on Greek mythology and the sacred traditions – from the Vedas and the Upanishads to the Old Testament. A three-part work dedicated to creation myths – In the Beginning, Aphrodite’s Nostalgia and Pygmalion’s Dream – formerly published in Glint’s hand-made luxury editions, are now forthcoming also in offset printing. La pazienza del legno, his first book (2004), echoes back to Borges’s labyrinths and Escher’s etchings. Ficus (2007) enjoyed an unexpected success. Both the book and the editioned prints were quickly sold out, so that a new series had to be realized for the solo exhibition held at the Russian Federal Museum of Photography in St Petersburg in 2015. A Journey to Petra and Wadi Rum (2013) reflects upon the representation of archaeological heritage, and the legacy of the Grand Tour tradition. Upon the Primacy of the Greeks. A Journey to Hellàs and Megàle Hellàs (2015) is currently touring through several Archaeological Museums in Greece (Athens, Chanià, Delphi, Thessaloniki, Kerkyra, Rhodes). Tat Tvam Asi (Thou Are That, 2011) and Facing Artemis include both a series of portraits and an essay on portraiture. He is currently working on a project entitled Vanishing Point.