Edward Burtynsky: Extraction / Abstraction


‘Burtynsky’s visions are often ravishing: optical vibrations, hypnotically immersive.’ – Simon Schama

This book is not yet published, but will be available from June 2024.

ISBN: 9783969993132 Category:


‘Burtynsky’s visions are often ravishing: optical vibrations, hypnotically immersive.’ – Simon Schama

Published on the occasion of Edward Burtynsky’s largest and most comprehensive exhibition to date, at the Saatchi Gallery, London, Extraction / Abstraction looks deeply at the key subjects and signature images spanning his 45-year career. Alongside Burtynsky’s compelling photographs, the book includes texts by celebrated art historian Simon Schama, who examines Burtynsky’s work in light of the question “Can art help save the world?”, and by curator Marc Mayer, former director of the National Gallery of Canada, who provides an overview of the photographer’s achievements as technician, journalist and artist.

Extraction / Abstraction presents a dichotomy of Burtynsky’s image-making imperative: the lucid and informed documentation of large-scale extractive processes, and how he transforms the landscapes of industry into complete abstractions. Other essential themes in his oeuvre such as agriculture, manufacturing, infrastructure and waste also find their rightful place here. With more than 130 color plates, the book furthermore has a special section, the “Process Archive,” featuring previously unpublished, behind-the-scenes photographs of Burtynsky at work on the ground and in the air throughout his career. The archive provides a glimpse into the artist’s progression through the evolution of the medium itself, from mid twentieth-century large-format analogue (film-based) cameras, through to twenty-first-century high-resolution digital technologies, including explorations into photogrammetry and augmented reality.

Additional information

Weight 300 g
Dimensions 30.5 x 23.5 cm
Publisher name Steidl
Publication date 11 June 2024
Number of pages 240
Format Hardback
Contributors Text by Edward Burtynsky, Marc Mayer, and Simon Schama
Dimensions 30.5 x 23.5 cm
Weight 300 g


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Edward Burtynsky is regarded as one of the world's most accomplished contemporary photographers. Since the early 1980s Burtynsky's imagery has explored the collective impact we as a species are exerting on the environment. Renowned for his sustained investigation of the "indelible human signature" caused by industrial incursions into the landscape, previous projects have explored mining, quarrying, manufacturing, agriculture, shipping, the production of oil, and the development of China. In addition, he has made three award-winning films with director Jennifer Baichwal, Manufactured Landscapes (2006), Watermark (2013) and Anthropocene: The Human Epoch (2018). Burtynsky's books with Steidl are China (2005), Quarries (2007), Oil (2009), Water (2013), Salt Pans (2016), Anthropocene (2018), Natural Order (2020) and African Studies (2023).