By the 1970s the preoccupation of many artists with formalism had shifted to embrace broader societal issues related to contemporary life, identity, race, gender, and multiculturalism. Postmodernism introduced a new awareness and self-consciousness that led many artists to challenge the assumptions underlying western society. The long-established media of 'fine art,' like oil painting and sculpture, had to make way for new media and different forms of expression. Serious questions were being raised by artists through installation art, video, film, photography, and in media that were traditionally been relegated to the sphere of craft. Since the early 1990s, Glenbow curators have been successful in adding strong contemporary voices to the art collection. Although the collecting focus continues to be Western Canada, artists from other parts of Canada are represented in the collection.
Canadian (b. 1955)
Oil Fields #24, Oil Sands, Fort McMurray, Alberta, 2001
chromogenic colour photograph on paper
Glenbow Museum Collection; Purchased with funds from the Collections Endowment Fund, 2003
Burtynsky is an important contemporary Canadian photographer whose works explore the condition of landscapes impacted by people and industry. His large-scale "altered landscapes" are ironic visual and political commentaries. They express the beauty of the vast land and, at the same time, expose the degradation that often results in the name of progress. This image is one of a series of powerful photographs of the oil sands of northern Alberta.