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b. 1955, Canada

Edward Burtynsky Biography

Canadian documentary photographer and filmmaker Edward Burtynsky has dedicated a large portion of his life to examining man's impact on the natural environment through the camera lens.

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Born to Ukrainian parents in Toronto in 1955, the General Motors plant in his hometown provided early inspiration for the development of his photographic process, eclipsing the homages to 19th-century landscape photographers seen in his early works of the early 1980s.

Graduating with a BAA in Photography and Media Studies from Ryerson University in 1982, in 1985 Burtynsky founded Toronto Image Works (TIW). Burtynsky runs TIW—a combined specialist photo laboratory and computer training centre for digital imaging and new media—in conjunction with and alongside his own developing photographic practice.

Over several decades, Burtynsky has diligently and objectively documented industrial landscapes across the globe, including China's industrial heartland, Bangladesh's shipbreaking yards, Australia's mines, Italy's marble quarries, Gujarat's salt pans, and Texan oil fields.

Neither condemning nor assuaging, the even-handed tone of his works navigates the nuances of beauty and ugliness, right and wrong, morality and necessity.

An early example of this can be found in his 'Tailings' (1995–1996) series, where the fauvist aesthetic appeal of the visual anomaly of bright orange rivers spanning blackened and brown muddy landscapes, clashes with the uncomfortable reality of ecological devastation caused by chemical pollution from metal mining and smelting.

Edward Burtynsky's largest and most ambitious photographic projects include 'OIL' (1999–2010), 'CHINA' (2002–2005), and 'WATER' (2010–2013), each presenting focused, yet global surveys, opening opportunities for discussion on the social and ecological implications of the industries that underlie modern human society.

The culmination of Burtynsky's practice has been The Anthropocene Project (2015–ongoing), a multi-disciplinary work examining humanity's mass-scale alteration of the face of the planet. Among other things, the project produced the third of three award-winning feature-length documentaries by Burtynsky, on the topic of humanity's complex relationship with nature.

Burtynsky's documentary filmmaking and photography have garnered international attention, featuring in major museum collections worldwide, including the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum and Museum of Modern Art in New York, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, London's Victoria and Albert Museum and Tate Modern, and the National Gallery of Canada.

The artist has received multiple prestigious awards, including a TED Prize, the Rogers Best Canadian Film Award, the title of Officer of the Order of Canada, ICP Infinity Award for Art (2008), Photo London's Master of Photography (2018), the Lucie Award for Achievement in Documentary Photography, and eight honorary degrees.

Garnering public commissions, too, in 2014 Burtynsky was tasked with producing six images of holocaust sites across Eastern Europe for the National Holocaust Monument in Ottawa, Canada. In line with his core subject, the artist presents a scarred landscape, albeit one with invisible emotional scars; there are uncomfortable connotations to industrial efficiency.

Michael Irwin | Ocula | 2020

Exhibition view: Edward Burtynsky, Anthropocene, Christophe Guye Galerie, Zurich (11 May–29 August 2020). Courtesy Christophe Guye Galerie. 

Edward Burtynsky Featured Artworks

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Basque Coast #1, UNESCO Geopark, Zumaia, Spain by Edward Burtynsky contemporary artwork
Edward BurtynskyBasque Coast #1, UNESCO Geopark, Zumaia, Spain, 2015Pigment inkjet print on Kodak Professional Photo paper
122 x 162.5 cm
Christophe Guye Galerie Contact Gallery
Chino Mine #5, Silver City, New Mexico, USA by Edward Burtynsky contemporary artwork
Edward BurtynskyChino Mine #5, Silver City, New Mexico, USA, 2012Pigment inkjet print on Kodak Professional Photo paper
148.6 x 198 cm
Christophe Guye Galerie Contact Gallery
Chuquicamata Copper Mine Overburden #1, Calama, Chile by Edward Burtynsky contemporary artwork
Edward BurtynskyChuquicamata Copper Mine Overburden #1, Calama, Chile, 2017Pigment inkjet print on Kodak Professional Photo paper
148.6 x 198 cm
Christophe Guye Galerie Contact Gallery
Chuquicamata Copper Mine Overburden #2, Calama, Chile by Edward Burtynsky contemporary artwork
Edward BurtynskyChuquicamata Copper Mine Overburden #2, Calama, Chile, 2017Pigment inkjet print on Kodak Professional Photo paper
148.6 x 198 cm
Christophe Guye Galerie Contact Gallery
Oil Bunkering #2, Niger Delta by Edward Burtynsky contemporary artwork
Edward BurtynskyOil Bunkering #2, Niger Delta, 2016Chromogenic colour print
122 x 163 cm
Sundaram Tagore Gallery Contact Gallery
Canola Fields #2, Luoping, Yunnan Province, China by Edward Burtynsky contemporary artwork
Edward BurtynskyCanola Fields #2, Luoping, Yunnan Province, China, 2011Chromogenic colour print
78.2 x 243.8 cm
Sundaram Tagore Gallery Contact Gallery
Salt Pans #13, Little Rann of Kutch, Gujarat, India by Edward Burtynsky contemporary artwork
Edward BurtynskySalt Pans #13, Little Rann of Kutch, Gujarat, India, 2016Chromogenic colour print
48 x 64 inches
Sundaram Tagore Gallery Contact Gallery
Salt Pans #10, Little Rann of Kutch, Gujarat, India by Edward Burtynsky contemporary artwork
Edward BurtynskySalt Pans #10, Little Rann of Kutch, Gujarat, India, 2016Chromogenic colour print
48 x 64 inches
Sundaram Tagore Gallery Contact Gallery

Edward Burtynsky Current & Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Edward Burtynsky, Anthropocene at Christophe Guye Galerie, Zurich
Open Now
11 May–29 August 2020 Edward Burtynsky Anthropocene Christophe Guye GalerieZurich
Contemporary art exhibition, Edward Burtynsky, Salt Pans at Sundaram Tagore Gallery, Singapore
Closed
12 February–29 March 2017 Edward Burtynsky Salt Pans Sundaram Tagore GallerySingapore
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Gallery Highlights at Sundaram Tagore Gallery, Hong Kong
Closed
10 February 2017–31 March 2018 Group Exhibition Gallery Highlights Sundaram Tagore GalleryHong Kong

Edward Burtynsky Represented By

Sundaram Tagore Gallery contemporary art gallery in Hong Kong Sundaram Tagore Gallery New York, Hong Kong, Singapore

Edward Burtynsky In Related Press

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Paris Photo: Tradition and innovation Related Press Paris Photo: Tradition and innovation 14 November 2016, Aesthetica Magazine

Paris Photo returns in 2016 for its 20th edition at Grand Palais. Standing as one of the most significant art fairs for photography, the event brings together a community of visual arts and contemporary expression from over 30 countries that include China, Ivory Coast, Denmark, United Arab Emirates, Spain, United States, Finland, France, Greece...

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United Nation's first ever group art exhibit on global food safety Related Press United Nation's first ever group art exhibit on global food safety 28 April 2016, Hypebeast

The United Nations is aiming to shed light on global issues surrounding food safety by hosting its first ever art exhibit titled We Are What We Eat.

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'The world we live in: through the lens of contemporary photography' presented by Sundaram Tagore Gallery and Collective 88 in partnership with Ayala Museum  Related Press 'The world we live in: through the lens of contemporary photography' presented by Sundaram Tagore Gallery and Collective 88 in partnership with Ayala Museum

Sundaram Tagore Gallery and Collective 88, in partnership with Ayala Museum, present 'The World We Live In: Through the Lens of Contemporary Photography', a specially curated exhibition that portrays how contemporary photographers document and interpret the world around us, creating images that are both aesthetically thrilling and deeply...

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In Conversation: Sundaram Tagore Related Press In Conversation: Sundaram Tagore 8 May 2015, Laura Thomson

Established in 2000, Sundaram Tagore Gallery is devoted to examining the exchange of ideas between Western and non-Western cultures. Gallery Founder, Sundaram Tagore, is an art historian, gallerist and award-winning documentary filmmaker. He was born in Calcutta in 1961 and manages four galleries between New York City, Hong Kong and...

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