Robert Bourdeau

Structural Landscapes

New York

May 8 – June 14, 2003

Press Release

Bourdeau’s landscape photography reinvents the genre by melding rigorously structured composition with a unique spirituality. Taken over the last three decades, in Europe, the photographs on view are of age-old landscapes, historical treasures of architecture nestled in the countryside, and rusting industrial sites reclaimed by nature. As the artist describes it: “[he] is deeply interested in how certain structures lose their identity and take on other feelings and ambiguities, and at other times become guardians or sentinels of physical and emotional space.” Profoundly mystic, Bourdeau’s vision of the land beckons to the transcendentalism of Thoreau. His attraction to the “primordial forces” at play in the spectacle of nature is also inherently romantic. Like the Romantics, Bourdeau is fascinated by the “dark mysticism” of mediaeval architectures and by “brooding” landscapes. At the same time, the exactness of his photography discloses the hidden geometry of nature. Through the mechanical eye of his camera, “the images become tapestries”, both abstract and richly textured.

Trained as an architect, Bourdeau's interest in photography developed after looking at photographs in Aperture magazine, which was edited by Minor White. The tie with the school that emerged from Camera Work was enhanced by Bourdeau’s connection with Paul Strand in the late 1960s.

Bourdeau’s philosophy entails a slow and deliberate technique. Working with a large format view camera, Bourdeau favors long exposures. Most of his photographs are contact printed-either from an 11 x 14 inches or 8 x 10 inches negative, a method that allows for a minimum loss of definition in the process of reproduction.

Bourdeau’s photographs have been exhibited internationally since 1967. Venues include the International Center of Photography, New York; the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; and the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. Bourdeau’s work is in the collections of the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; the Museum of Contemporary Art and The Renaissance Society, Chicago; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the National Gallery of Canada; and the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, Ottawa.