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Edward Burtynsky

Canadian  •  b. 1955

Biography

Universally termed 'industrial landscapes', Edward Burtynsky's photographs are rooted in the complex, symbiotic and, at times, destructive relationship we have with the earth. In depicting his subjects, Burtynsky balances an exacting, documentarian objectivity with a breathtakingly finessed beauty. His oversized works, whose subjects include quarries in Vermont, shipyards in China and oil refineries in Canada, have a sense of grandiosity and monumentality. There is an initial visual appeal of vibrant colors, details and scale; however, on closer inspection, the environmental dilemma unfolds. They are introspective and meditative, capturing a 'contemplative moment' where landscapes provide visual and emotional resonance.

Insights

  • Phillips set the world auction record for Edward Burtynsky in 2014, with Nickel Tailings #34 and #35, Sudbury, Ontario, 1996 selling for $100,000.

  • His works are included in the collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Toronto, Victoria and Albert Museum and Tate Modern, London, amongst others.

  • Burtynsky has produced two multi-award winning, feature-length documentary films, Manufactured Landscapes and Watermark, which explore the same narratives as his photographs.

  • He is the winner of the 2005 TED Prize and the Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts in 2016, amongst others.

"I no longer see my world as delineated by countries, with borders, or languages, but as 6.5 billion humans living off a precariously balanced, finite planet."

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