Industrial Photography AGO

Canadian industrial photography gets AGO overview

There's something about industry — often related to its sheer size and apparent lack of humanity — that makes for stunning photographs, a fact that Edward Burtynsky learned long ago. But in addition to the contemporary work of Canada's best-loved photographer of industrial and other manufactured landscapes, there's a rich history of this photographic practice that spans all the way back to the invention of the camera itself. In an effort to explore this tradition, the AGO has organized a long-run exhibit that takes a closer look at our national contribution to the body of work focused on all things industrial.

In fact, "Songs of the Future: Canadian Industrial Photographs, 1858 to Today" tracks an important thread in Canada's development in general. "These industrial activities have undeniably shaped the Canadian landscape — for better and for worse. And photographs of these activities — whether made on commission by those eager to document their contribution to national progress, or for the photographer's own interest — continue to feed our imaginations, shape our opinions and make us aware of what is at stake," reads the exhibition description.

As much as the show documents the changing landscape, it also illustrates just how profoundly industry itself has changed. As much as one knows that the industrial technology of the late 19th century differs from that of today, some of the changes are particularly remarkable when placed in this historical context — as are the similarities, of which there are more than a few.

Featuring the work of William Notman, Alexander Henderson, Richard Maynard, J.C.M. Hayward, John Vanderpant, E. Haanel Cassidy, George Hunter, Bill Vazan, Ralph Greenhill, Geoffrey James, Edward Burtynsky, Peter MacCallum, Steven Evans, Jesse Boles, and Isabelle Hayeur, Songs of Future will interest photography fans and history lovers alike.

Songs of the Future: Canadian Industrial Photographs, 1858 to Today runs from August 20, 2011 - April 29, 2012 at the Betty Ann & Fraser Elliott Gallery.

PHOTOS (captions provided for close-ups of the art work)

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William Notman 1858-1860

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Ralph Greenhill 1980

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John Charles Medley Haward 1908

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George Hunter 1954

Photos by Jesse Milns


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