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UNLV Barrick Museum Presents Edward Burtynsky: Oil

The exhibition surveys a decade of Burtynsky’s photographic imagery exploring different aspects of the modern world’s most transformative resource, oil. It opens Sept. 23.
Arts & Culture  |  Jul 17, 2016  |  By Jennifer Vaughan
Media Contact: Jennifer Vaughan, 702-895-1575

Edward Burtynsky, Highway #5, Los Angeles, California, USA, 2009. Chromogenic color print. Collection of the Nevada Museum of Art, The Altered Landscape, Carol Franc Buck Collection. Photograph © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Metivier Gallery Toronto/Von Lintel Gallery, Los Angeles.

Edward Burtynsky: Oil, an exhibition featuring more than 50 large-scale color landscape photographs by Canadian artist Edward Burtynsky, will be on view at the Marjorie Barrick Museum Sept. 23, 2016-Jan. 14, 2017. The exhibition surveys a decade of Burtynsky’s photographic imagery exploring different aspects of the modern world’s most transformative resource, oil. The exhibition is organized by the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, the same museum responsible for Ugo Rondinone’s Seven Magic Mountains public art installation in Las Vegas.

“Edward Burtynsky: Oil offers a unique opportunity for cross-disciplinary collaboration between the museum, the College of Fine Arts, and other UNLV departments,” commented Alisha Kerlin, interim director of the UNLV Marjorie Barrick Museum. “We are looking forward to the timely discussions that will arise from this exhibition centered around such an important global commodity as oil, especially as UNLV prepares to host the final 2016 U.S Presidential Debate while this exhibition is on view. The collection of photographs drawn from the permanent collection of the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno represents that museum’s ongoing commitment to issues related to natural and built environments — a dialogue to which the Las Vegas community will certainly be able to contribute.”

From 1997 to 2009, Burtynsky chronicled the production, distribution, and use of oil, revealing the rarely seen mechanics of its manufacture and the altered landscapes formed by its extraction. He organizes his work thematically, passing from oil fields to massive refineries, highway interchanges, gatherings of motor culture aficionados, and the debris that oil leaves in its wake: car scrapyards, mammoth ship breaking operations, and fields of decrepit equipment. Burtynsky also visited the car-dependent suburban housing developments of North Las Vegas; his images of the city provoke questions about the types of communities people choose to build, and human dependence on natural resources to meet the demands of our suburban infrastructure.

Burtynsky's photographs render his subjects with a transfixing clarity of detail. He precedes every new body of work with research that evolves into negotiations with the authorities of the areas he has chosen to shoot. The angle and height of each image is carefully selected to convey a sense of the sublime. Each photograph in Edward Burtynsky: Oil is a singular alliance between the seriousness of a documentarian and the aesthetic eye of a committed artist.

This exhibition is organized by the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno. All of the photographs in Edward Burtynsky: Oil are drawn from the Nevada Museum of Art, Carol Franc Buck Altered Landscape Photography Collection.

About the Artist

Edward Burtynsky’s photographs of industrially transformed landscapes are in the collections of major museums around the world, including the National Gallery of Canada, the Bibliothéque Nationale, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Born in 1955 of Ukrainian heritage in St. Catharines, Ontario, Burtynsky is a graduate of Ryerson University and Niagara College. His father worked on an automobile production line at a General Motors plant in his hometown.

Burtynsky credits this experience as his earliest exposure to the subject of industry, and oil in particular. Major exhibitions include Manufactured Landscapes (2003); Before the Flood (2003); Burtynsky – China (2005); and Edward Burtynsky – Quarries (2006), all of which have traveled extensively to venues in Canada, the United States, Europe, and Asia. In 2004 Burtynsky was awarded the prestigious TED Prize. He holds numerous honorary doctorate degrees. In 2007 he was named an Officer of the Order of Canada, that nation’s highest civil honor, and in 2016 he received the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts. His debut feature film Watermark (2014) was named Best Canadian Film by the Toronto Film Critics Association.

University Forum Lecture: Photographer Edward Burtynsky on Oil

7:30 p.m. Nov. 2, 2016. Barrick Museum Auditorium

Sponsored by the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, UNLV Marjorie Barrick Museum, the UNLV College of Liberal Arts and the Dean's Associates. Acclaimed photographer Edward Burtynsky presents his work in Oil, a photographic exploration of the effects of this critical fuel on our lives. These images tell an epic story of mankind expressed through our discovery, exploitation, and celebration of this vital natural resource. After the lecture, forum attendees are invited to tour the exhibition Edward Burtynsky: Oil, on view in the Barrick Museum’s main gallery.

About the Nevada Museum of Art

Nevada Museum of Art is the only AAM accredited art museum in Nevada. A private, non-profit organization founded in 1931, the Reno-based institution is supported by its membership as well as sponsorships, gifts and grants. Through its permanent collections, original exhibitions and programming, and Museum School, the Nevada Museum of Art provides the opportunity for people to engage with a range of art and education experiences. Its Center for Art + Environment, is an internationally recognized research center dedicated to supporting the practice, study, and awareness of creative interactions between people and their environments. The Center houses unique archive materials from more than 1,000 artists working on all seven continents, including Cape Farewell, Michael Heizer, Walter de Maria, Lita Albuquerque, Burning Man, Center for Land Use Interpretation, and Rondinone’s Seven Magic Mountains project. More at nevadaart.org

About the UNLV Marjorie Barrick Museum

The UNLV Marjorie Barrick Museum, a public arts unit under the UNLV art department and the College of Fine Arts, strives to provide a welcoming environment in which students, members of the university community, Southern Nevada residents, and the public in general can study and learn by directly experiencing works of art. The museum’s goal is to enhance the visitor's understanding of art as an enduring human endeavor, and to promote visual literacy for all patrons. To this end, the museum acquires, exhibits, interprets and preserves works of art representative of past and present cultures, and artistic creativity.

For current program and exhibition information, call 702-895-3381 or visit the Barrick Museum website.

Museum hours:
  • Monday-Friday: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Thursday 9 a.m.-8 p.m.
  • Saturday: Noon-5 p.m.
  • Closed Sundays and state and federal holidays.

Cost: Free. Suggested voluntary contribution: $5 for adults; $2 for children and senior.

About University Forum 

University Forum is a public lecture series sponsored and funded by the UNLV College of Liberal Arts and the Dean’s Associates. The Marjorie Barrick Museum is also a proud sponsor. Housed in UNLV’s College of Liberal Arts, The University Forum Lecture Series was founded in 1985, by then-Dean Thomas Wright. The idea was to bring intellectual and artistic talent from across the country to Las Vegas and the UNLV campus in order to share ideas and thereby enrich the lives of the citizens whose taxes support us. Since that time, the series has never missed a semester in offering a dozen or more public lectures to the community. Indeed, today speakers no longer come just from across the country but from around the world, sharing ideas, adventures, performances, and insights with our students as well as with our fellow Las Vegans. All events are free, and no reservation is necessary.

For details visit the University Forum website.

Download High-Res Photos

Edward Burtynsky, Highway #5, Los Angeles, California, USA, 2009. Chromogenic color print. Collection of the Nevada Museum of Art, The Altered Landscape, Carol Franc Buck Collection. Photograph © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Metivier Gallery Toronto/Von Lintel Gallery, Los Angeles.