Edward Burtynsky: Oil

October 8 - 31, 2009

Presented in conjunction with Oil at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington from October 3 to December 13.

Book by Steidl


This exhibition is the first to showcase Burtynsky’s decade long exploration of the subject of oil. It features key images from the oil fields, refineries, automobiles, motorways, disposal and recycling series, as well as the release of new images of transportation, Alberta oil sands and abandoned oil fields in Azerbaijan.


“Burtynsky’s photographs of unknown sites and obscure industrial activities exercise a startling authority. Remarkable scenes – vistas of junk, vast motorways, tribal vehicular gatherings, strange colors loosed from the earth, and the wholesale reordering of nature – so irrationalize our sense of what surrounds us that they can hardly be believed. And yet there they are.”


“Turning his camera lens to a fever dream, Burtynsky forges a new mythology for the 21st century from the lexicon of realism. With stunning detail, from improbable perches, in strange and beautiful colors, these pictures show their subjects with clinical accuracy, and with definitive force. This is a new form of epic history painting.”

— excerpted from an essay by Paul Roth, Curator of Photography and Media Arts, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, published in Burtynsky: Oil by Steidl