Edward Burtynsky in Gaspé (2012)

« 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. »
Edward Butynsky


Site of Desjardins Evenings | Rue de la Reine // Promenade near the Musée de la Gaspésie
80, boulevard Gaspé | View map

Toronto (Ontario) | www.edwardburtynsky.com

« 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. » Edward Burtynsky

Photos © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Nicholas Metivier, Toronto / Howard Greenberg & Bryce Wolkowitz, New York.

Rencontres internationales de la photographie en Gaspésie thanks Marcus Schubert of the office of Edward Burtynsky for his collaboration in putting together this exhibit.


« Over the last 12 years, acclaimed photographer Edward Burtynsky has traveled across the globe to chronicle the production, distribution, and use of oil. His extensive exploration is organized thematically, surveying a “life cycle” of this critical fuel. First, Burtynsky depicts the extraction of oil from the earth. He photographs cities and suburbs dependent upon its availability, and the subcultures that have formed around people’s obsession with motor vehicles and transportation. Finally, he addresses the coming "end of oil"—revealing the consequences of our energy economy, and the dwindling availability of the substance that drives our civilization.

When I first started photographing industry it was out of a sense of awe at what we as a species were up to. Our achievements became my source of infinite possibilities, a fount for all my imagery. But as time passed, that flush of wonder began to turn. In 1997 I had what I refer to as my oil epiphany. It occurred to me that all the vast man-altered landscapes I had photographed for over 20 years had been facilitated by the discovery of oil and the internal combustion engine. I began to think about oil itself as a subject for my camera: as both the source of energy that makes everything possible, and as a source of dread, for its ongoing endangerment of our habitat. Over the next 12 years I researched and documented the subjects of this exhibition: from the fields and refineries where oil is produced, to the automobiles and roads that carry us on our journeys, to the vast junk pile cemeteries that house the detritus of our petroleum economy.

In no way can one person encompass the influence and extended landscape of this thing we call oil. These images can be considered notations by one artist—contemplations of a world reshaped by this massive energy force, and the cumulative effects of the industrial evolution. » Edward Burtynsky

Upcoming exhibits


  • « Nature Transformed: Edward Burtynsky’s Vermont Quarry Photographs in Context », Hood Museum, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, USA, April 21 - August 19, 2012


  • « Burtynsky: Oil », Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa, Canada, June 4 - September 2, 2013

Recent or significant solo exhibits

  • « Edward Burtynsky: The Industrial Sublime », (4 year U.S. touring exhibition), organized by the Shaw Gallery, Weber State University, Ogden, Utah, USA, August 29 - November 29
  • « Oil » (2009) organized for North America by the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. (five-year international touring show) and organized for a 5 year European tour by Huis Marseille, Amsterdam (see C/V on website for full details)
  • « Manufactured Landscapes », at the National Gallery of Canada (touring from 2003 - 2005)

Recent or significant group exhibits


  • « Infinite Balance », Museum of Photographic Arts (MoPA), San Diego, California, USA, October 11, 2011 - February 5, 2012
  • « Songs of the Future: Canadian Industrial Photographs », 1858 to Today, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada, August 20, 2011 - April 29, 2012
  • « Subverted », Ivory Press, Madrid, Spain, February 14 - May 12, 2012


  • National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (United States)
  • National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (Ontario)
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA (United States)
  • Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY (United States)
  • Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid (Spain)

Distinctions or awards


  • National Magazine Awards, Gold Prize: Conceptual Photography, Toronto
  • MOCCA award, Toronto, Canada
  • Honorary Degree - Doctor of Laws, Mt. Allison University, Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada
  • *Please refer to Edward Burtynsky’s Website to see all his awards and honours.


  • BURTYNSKY - OIL, Steidl Verlag, Göttingen, Germany, October, 216 pages, hardcover


  • BURTYNSKY - QUARRIES, published by Steidl, Germany, October, 192 pages, hardcover


  • Burtynsky, Edward, BURTYNSKY – CHINA, Steidl Verlag, Göttingen, Germany, October, hardcover