Edward Burtynsky’s “Oil” at Hasted Hunt Kraeutler

SOCAR Oil Fields #6, Baku, Azerbaijan, 2006 Digital Chromogenic Color Print 48 x 72" ed of 6 © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy of HASTED HUNT KRAEUTLER, NYC / Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto.

Upon heading to Burtynsky’s gallery here in NYC, Charles Cowles, to check out his latest show, “Oil”, I realized something was off. I was no longer in Charles Cowles. I then heard a familiar voice in the back of the gallery, and lo and behold, it was of Bill Hunt, the former photo director of Hasted/Hunt , and prior to that, Ricco/Maresca, where I worked a few years ago. Bill and Sarah (Sarah is the Hasted part of the equation), went off on their own a few years ago, and more recently, joined forces with Joseph Kraeutler in taking over Charles Cowles former space on 24th St. in Chelsea after he retired. They also took over Burtynsky’s exclusive NY representation. “Oil”, showing simultaneously at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington DC as well as Nicholas Metivier Gallery in Toronto from where Burtynsky hails, is a long-term project based over the past 12 years during which Burtynsky followed the oil industry all over the world.

Oil Fields #19a, Belridge, California, USA, 2003 Digital Chromogenic Color Print 35.5 x 77.5" ed of 10 © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy of HASTED HUNT KRAEUTLER, NYC / Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto.

Russia, California, Detroit, Texas, the Middle East, Canada… are just a few of the locations Burtynsky traveled to in search for evidence of the industry that has shaped our society, economy, and way of life for the past 100 years. An industry which must change, or we will suffer the consequences, as we have already seen begin. The work is in traditional Burtynsky style– very large prints, shot mostly from above, and with the vantage point of monumental scale that we sometimes take for granted. Burtynsky is truly connecting our every day lives– our SUVs, plastic packaging, single use/single serving society– with what that means and looks like from start to finish, from extraction to consumption. From the vast views of Los Angeles oil fields to the overhead shot of its freeways, he is directly relating cause and effect, decision and consequence, origin and destination.

Highway #5, Los Angeles, California, USA, 2009 Digital Chromogenic Color Print 60 x 75" ed of 3 © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy of HASTED HUNT KRAEUTLER, NYC / Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto.

The images are all gorgeous, despite levels of disgust at realization of what we’re looking at, many shot during the magic hour and printed with beautiful subtle tones and colors, bringing the viewer into an appreciation of the inherent beauty of the prints and images, while simultaneously showing us what we have done to our landscape and environment with no holds barred.

Jet Engines, Tucson, Arizona 2006 Digital Chromogenic Color Print © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy of HASTED HUNT KRAEUTLER, NYC / Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto.

“Oil” is on view through November 28th at Hasted Hunt Kraeutler at 537 W. 24th St. New York, NY 10011. And if you’re in DC, be sure to check out the simultaneous show at The Corcoran exhibiting a massive 60 prints from this series. In addition, a new book, Burtynsky’s fourth, titled “Edward Burtynsky: Oil” has just been published by Steidl. Purchase it here. To preview the images in the book simply view the amazing amount of work Burtynsky has dedicated to the subject of oil on his website.

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