press release

This touring exhibition surveys a decade of photographic imagery exploring the subject of oil by artist Edward Burtynsky. The Canadian photographer has traveled internationally to chronicle the production, distribution, and use of this critical fuel. In addition to revealing the rarely-seen mechanics of its manufacture, Burtynksy photographs the effects of oil on our lives, depicting landscapes altered by its extraction from the earth and by the cities and suburban sprawl generated around its use. He also addresses the coming "end of oil," as we confront its rising cost and dwindling availability. This exhibition, premiering in the capital city of the United States in Fall 2009, represents a look at one of the most important subjects of our time by one of the most respected and recognized contemporary photographers in the world.

Burtynsky's photographs, printed at large scale, render his subjects with transfixing clarity of detail. His extensive exploration is organized thematically: aerial views of oil fields, the architecture of massive refineries, highway interchanges ribboning across the landscape, and motorculture aficionados at automotive events. In considering the consequences of oil use, the artist has photographed a series of arresting landscapes: derelict oil derricks, vistas of junked vehicles, recycling yards, and mammoth oil-tanker shipbreaking operations. Edward Burtynsky: Oil promises to be the definitive photographic documentation of this much debated subject.

Consisting of approximately 55 color landscapes, Edward Burtynsky: Oil will encompass a kind of modern-day “lifecycle” of the energy source that has shaped the modern world. The project will feature many new works, most never-before-exhibited. A major catalogue, published by acclaimed German publisher Steidl, will accompany the exhibition.

Edward Burtynsky is one of Canada’s most respected photographers. His color photographs of industrially transformed landscapes are in the collections of several major museums around the world, including the National Gallery of Canada, the Biblioteque Nationale in Paris, and the Museum of Modern Art and Guggenheim Museum in New York. Born in 1955 of Ukranian heritage in St. Catharines, Ontario, Burtynsky is a graduate of Ryerson University and Niagara College. His father worked on an automobile production line at a General Motors plant in his hometown; Burtynksy credits this experience as his earliest exposure to the subject of industry, and oil in particular. Burtynsky’s exhibitions include Manufactured Landscapes (2003); Before the Flood (2003); Burtynsky – China (2005); and Edward Burtynsky – Quarries (2006), all of which have traveled extensively to venues in Canada, the United States, Europe, and Asia. Among many other honors, in 2007 Burtynsky was awarded the prestigious title Officer of the Order of Canada.

only in german

Edward Burtynsky: Oil