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Edward Burtynsky: The Industrial Sublime

Jan. 28 – May 5, 2012

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Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky explores the intersection of nature and industry through his large-scale images that are extraordinarily beautiful, exquisitely detailed, and hauntingly unnerving.  Over the years, he has explored the global landscape through series that include Quarries, Ships, Tailings, Mines, Recycling, Oil, and China.  Together, the images convey the impact of industry on consumerism, culture, and human life.
 
Burtynsky says of his work, “Nature transformed through industry is a predominant theme in my work.  I set course to intersect with a contemporary view of the great ages of man; from stone, to minerals, oil, transportation, silicon, and so on.  To make these ideas visible I search for subjects that are rich in detail and scale yet open in their meaning.  Recycling yards, mine tailings, quarries and refineries are all places that are outside of our normal experience, yet we partake of their output on a daily basis.  These images are meant as metaphors to the dilemma of our modern existence; they search for a dialogue between attraction and repulsion, seduction and fear.  We are drawn by desire - a chance at good living, yet we are consciously or unconsciously aware that the world is suffering for our success.  Our dependence on nature to provide the materials for our consumption and our concern for the health of our planet sets us into an uneasy contradiction.  For me, these images function as reflecting pools of our times.”
 
Burtynsky is an internationally acclaimed photographer whose depictions of global industrial landscapes are in the collections of more than fifty major museums around the world, including the National Gallery of Canada, the Bibliotéque Nationale in Paris, the Museum of Modern Art and Guggenheim Museum in New York, and the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid.  His distinguished awards include the TED Prize and the title of Officer of the Order of Canada.  He holds four honorary doctorate degrees.
 
Edward Burtynsky: The Industrial Sublime presents 30 large-scale photographs dating from 1991 – 2008.  The exhibition was organized with Weber State University, the Frist Center for Contemporary Art, and the University of Wyoming Art Museum.   It has been funded in part by the National Advisory Board of the UW Art Museum, Wyoming Public Radio, and the Wyoming Arts Council through the Wyoming State Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes a great nation deserves great art.

 

A UW Faculty Response to Edward Burtynsky: The Industrial Sublime will take place Monday, Feb. 20, 7 p.m. at the UW Art Museum.  A Screening of Manufactured Landscapes (a film by Jennifer Baichwal, 2006) will take place Monday, March 5, 7 p.m. in the Visual Arts Center Auditorium.

 

  • Funded in part by the National Advisory Board of the UW Art Museum Endowment, Wyoming Pubic Radio, and the Wyoming Arts Council through the Wyoming State Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts which believes a great nation deserves great art

  

Images:

Top left: Edward Burtynsky (Canadian, b. 1955), Oil Fields #22, Cold Lake Production Project, Cole Lake, Alberta, Canada 2001, 48x60 cm, photo © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Nicholas Metivier, Toronto / Howard Greenberg & Bryce Wolkowitz, New York 

Top right: Edward Burtynsky (Canadian, b. 1955), Scrap Auto Engines #11, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada 1997, 40 x 50 cm, photo © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Nicholas Metivier, Toronto / Howard Greenberg & Bryce Wolkowitz, New York 

Bottom left: Edward Burtynsky (Canadian, b. 1955), Shipyard #7, Qili Port, Zhejiang Province, China 2005, 48x60 cm, photo © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Nicholas Metivier, Toronto / Howard Greenberg & Bryce Wolkowitz, New York 

Bottom right: Edward Burtynsky (Canadian, b. 1955), Iberia Quarries #7, Marbrito Co., Borba-Mouro, Portugal 2006, 48x60 cm, photo © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Nicholas Metivier, Toronto / Howard Greenberg & Bryce Wolkowitz, New York 


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