Born in 1955 of Ukrainian heritage at St. Catharines, Ontario, Burtynsky is a graduate of Ryerson University (Bachelor of Applied Arts in Photography) and studied graphic art at Niagara College in Welland. He links his early exposure to the sites and images of the General Motors plant in his hometown to the development of his photographic work. His imagery explores the intricate link between industry and nature, combining the raw elements of mining, quarrying, manufacturing, shipping, oil production and recycling into eloquent, highly expressive visions that find beauty and humanity in the most unlikely of places.
An active lecturer on photographic art, Mr. Burtynsky's speaking engagements include the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., George Eastman House in Rochester, NY, The Canadian Center for Architecture in Montreal, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the TED conference, Idea City, and Ryerson University in Toronto.
Burtynsky's photographic depictions of industrialized landscapes are included in the collections of more than 50 museums around the world including: the National Gallery of Canada, the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum in New York, The Tate Modern in London, National Gallery of Art and Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., the Reina Sofia in Madrid, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Mr. Burtynsky’s distinctions include the TED Prize, The Outreach award at the Rencontres d’Arles, The Flying Elephant Fellowship, and the Roloff Beny Book award. In 2006, he was awarded the title Officer of the Order of Canada and is the recipient of six honorary doctorate degrees.