Robert Burley for Function Magazine, 2015.

Robert Burley

Canada 1957


Robert Burley
Robert Burley
November 1, 2015
Ok, I know it's so damn corny to quote somebody just to describe yourself, let alone Confucius, but this quote says all about my relationship with Widewalls, so forgive me for doing this: Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. Am I forgiven?

Robert Burley is a Canadian artist, a photographer who explores the relationship between nature and architecture of the urban landscape. Burley was born in Picton, Canada in 1957. He received M.F.A. in Photography from School of the Art Institute of Chicago and his B.A.A. in Media Studiesat Ryerson University in Toronto. From the beginning of his career, Burley was trying to prolong the life of fleeting traces of the material world, to make it permanent. And he has been doing so from the 80s until today. Robert’s large-format camera is, in fact, his observational tool, serving as a mean for his own personal reflection.

Robert Burley - Lake Huron, Craigleith, 2002
Robert Burley – Lake Huron, Craigleith, 2002

Burley particularly focused on the collapse of the analog photography industry – documenting the industrial infrastructure of analog photography before, during, and after its downfall. Like, for example the demolition of Kodak factories to the abandonment of Polaroid offices. Robert’s major project concerning this subject was an exhibition titled The Disappearance of Darkness containing photographs taken between 2005 and 2010, documenting the radical transition this art had suffered lately.

Robert Burley - Implosions of Buildings 65 and 69, Kodak Park, Rochester, New York , 2007
Robert Burley – Implosions of Buildings 65 and 69, Kodak Park, Rochester, New York , 2007

The exhibition was followed by the book The Disappearance of Darkness: Photography at the end of the analog era, published by Princeton Architectural Press. Burley also created many public art projects such as at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art and the Canadian Centre for Architecture.

The artist is represented by Stephen Bulger Gallery, in Toronto.

Robert Burley currently lives and works in Toronto.

Featured image: Robert Burley for Function Magazine, 2015
All images copyright © the artist

YearExhibition TitleMuseum/GallerySolo/Group
2018-2019A Handful of DustRiverside California Museum of PhotographyGroup
2018Photography in Canada: 1960-2000The Rooms, 9 Bonaventure Ave, St. John's, CanadaGroup
2018Land UseStephen Bulger Gallery, TorontoGroup
2018A Handful of DustCalifornia Museum of Photography, Riverside, CaliforniaGroup
2018Water WorkArt Gallery of Hamilton, HamiltonGroup
2017-2018My City My Six: Home - PlaceDoris McCarthy Gallery, University of Toronto Group
2017An Enduring WildernessJohn B. Aird Gallery, TorontoSolo
2017It’s All Happening So FastArt Museum at the University of Toronto, TorontoGroup
2017Photography in Canada: 1960-2000National Gallery of Canada, OttawaGroup
2017A Handful of DustWhitechapel Gallery, London, UKGroup
2017The Agony of SilverMusée de la Photographie André Villers, Mougins, FRGroup
2016Counterpoints: Photography Through the Lens of Toronto CollectionsArt Museum at the University of Toronto, TorontoGroup
2016Some Landings - Certains DébarquementsJohn B. Aird Gallery, TorontoGroup
2015Photography Inc. From Luxury Product to Mass MediumFotomuseum, Antwerp, BelgiumGroup
2015Residue: The Persistence of the RealVancouver Art Gallery, VancouverGroup
2015A Handful of DustLe Bal, Paris, FRGroup
2015Identity: Art inspired by the Great LakesThe Lieutenant Governor’s Suite, Queen’s Park, TorontoGroup
2015The CCA in photographs, 1987–2015,The Canadian Centre for Architecture, MontrealGroup
2015Celebrating 20 YearsStephen Bulger Gallery, TorontoGroup
2014Robert BurleyRyerson Image Center, TorontoSolo
2014Robert BurleyGeorge Eastman House, RochesterSolo
2013Disappearance of Darkness: Photographs by Robert BurleyTraveling exhibitionSolo
2013Robert BurleyMusée Nicéphore Niépce, Chalon sur SaôneSolo
2013Robert BurleyNational Gallery of Canada, OttawaSolo
2012Arcadian Land: Seized or Lost?AGO, TorontoGroup
2012Back to the LandNational Gallery of Canada, OttawaGroup
2012Imperfect HealthCanadian Centre for Architecture, MontréalGroup
2011Spaces of the CityNational Gallery of Canada, OttawaGroup
2010Persistent Shadow: Considering the Photographic NegativeGeorge Eastman House/International Museum of Photography & Film, RochesterGroup
2009Liquid from Rain and Rivers: Robert Burley, Patterson Ewen, and Ron MartinArt Gallery of Hamilton, HamiltonGroup
2009Beautiful Fictions: Photography at the AGO, video installationArt Gallery of Ontario, TorontoGroup
2009Photographic Proof, public installationLe Mois de la Photo a Montreal, Canadian Centre for Architecture, MontréalSolo
2009The Disappearance of DarknessCanadian Centre for Architecture, MontréalSolo
2009ORD: Documenting the Definitive Modern AirportChicago Architecture Foundation, ChicagoGroup
2008Flight DreamsArt Gallery of Nova Scotia, HalifaxGroup
2008Still RevolutionMuseum of Contemporary Canadian Art, TorontoSolo
2008State of the CityRochester Contemporary Art Center, RochesterGroup
2008Between Memory & History: From the Epic to the EverydayMuseum of Contemporary Canadian Art, TorontoGroup
2008Recurrent Memories: Historic Jewish Sites in Canada and PolandGallery 345, TorontoGroup
2008ORD: Documenting the Definitive Modern AirportEric Arthur Gallery,University of Toronto, TorontoGroup
2008The Death of PhotographyStephen Bulger Gallery, TorontoGroup
2007The Places of Glenn GouldStephen Bulger Gallery, TorontoSolo
2006A Collected View: Ten Years of Photography Acquisitions 1995 to 2005City of Toronto Archives, TorontoGroup
2005Sense of the CityCanadian Centre for Architecture, MontréalGroup
2006Great LakesStephen Bulger Gallery, TorontoSolo
2005Instruments of Faith: Toronto’s First SynagoguesEric Arthur Gallery,University of Toronto, TorontoSolo
2003The Urban CharacterTriennale of Milan, MilanGroup
2003Defining Boundaries: Photographs of City and CountryRyerson Gallery, TorontoGroup
2001Engineering the Picturesque: The Landscapes of OlmstedCanadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, OttawaSolo
1999House/HomePhoto Passage at Harbourfront, TorontoGroup
1998From the Collection: GardensCanadian Museum of Contemporary Photography,OttawaGroup
1995The Parks of Frederick Law OlmstedStephen Bulger Gallery, TorontoSolo
1994Tithing for EdenDesign Exchange, TorontoSolo
1988O’Hare: Airfeld on the PrairieChicago Historical Society, ChicagoSolo
1987The Don ValleyToronto Image Works, TorontoSolo
1987O’Hare AirfeldGallery TPW, TorontoSolo
1983StagesGallery TPW, TorontoSolo