For nearly four decades, Edward Burtynsky has been making photographs about the effects of industry on the environment – mining and mineral extraction, large-scale agriculture, and urbanization. His most recent project focuses on Africa, from salt ponds in Senegal to tea farms in Kenya to sulfur springs in Ethiopia. Edward Burtynsky: African Studies is on view at Weinstein Hammons Gallery through December 30, and a book by the same name is forthcoming from Steidl. In November, Burtynsky was inducted into the International Photography Hall of Fame.
Burtynsky responded to five questions from photograph.
Name a photograph that brings you joy.
Any of the family hijinx images by Jacques-Henri Lartigue. They always bring a smile to my face.
Favorite photo book?
New Topographics, recently re-published by Steidl, is one of my favorites and was a seminal book that shaped my own thesis and work on how landscape photography can provide an intelligent critique of our built environment.
Last exhibition you saw?
I was just in Paris for the annual Paris Photo fair and had the chance to see the Monet – Mitchell show at Fondation Louis Vuitton, which was spectacular.
While it is impossible to pick just one, whenever I am in NYC I love visiting the MET. The breadth, diversity, and quality of the collection from medieval artifacts to Japanese armor, to modern and contemporary art is inspiring, as is their commitment to photography.
Favorite work of art that’s not a photograph?
Standing in the presence of Michelangelo’s David is to be in the presence of extraordinary skill and vision that has withstood the test of time.