Magazine article Artforum International

Edward Burtynsky: Charles Cowles Gallery. (New York)

Magazine article Artforum International

Edward Burtynsky: Charles Cowles Gallery. (New York)

Article excerpt

Gone are the days of big canvases glutting exhibition spaces, now that photography has largely replaced painting as the medium of choice among contemporary artists. The "new painting" often has little to do with painting itself, of course, except perhaps in terms of scale; indeed, the ubiquity of the photograph almost makes one yearn for fleshy oils on canvas. Edward Burtynsky's photographs, however, seem geared to satisfy that yearning. In this small survey of work from the past decade, Burtynsky presented a mini-history of postwar art, complete with references to Abstract Expressionism and post-painterly abstraction as well as to Environments and Minimalism. At the same time, his emphasis on monumentality recalls traditional history painting, complete with miniature human figures to indicate scale.

Burtynsky's "Shipbreaking" series, 2000-2001, is a case in point. Though he doesn't stage his scenes in the overtly artificial manner of fellow Canadian Jeff Wall, these are meticulously choreographed images nonetheless. Burtynsky sets up a shot like a latter-day Claude Lorrain blocking out his landscape with trees and crumbling temples. In Shipbreaking #9a [CHARACTER NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] b, Chittagong, Bangladesh, 2000, a two-part work, the rusting, deformed hulks of disassembled ships lead the eye into the background, where the scattered components of an industrial graveyard are visible. In the middle distance in both images is a line of workers staring out at the viewer. The spaciousness of such locales stands in contrast to the tighter, more abstract views inside the bodies of the behemoths. Shipbreaking #48, Chittagong, Bangladesh, 2001, focuses on a wall covered in painterly drips of, deep red rust, the recognizable elements of the ship's interior anatomy subsumed in the overall abstraction. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.