About the Photographer
(American, b. 1951) has labored for over three decades to create what many
regard as the most impeccable and luminous color prints in the history of
photography. Devoted to personally hand printing
each of his 8x10 and Hasselblad transparencies on the now-discontinued Swiss
Cibachrome photographic paper, Burkett has produced some of the most archival,
as well as the largest and highest resolution color photographs ever created by
a photographer’s own hand, using exclusively film and without modern computer
After spending nearly a
decade in a contemplative community, Burkett realized that his ultimate
vocation was to present the light that he could see in the world around him to
others through the medium of photography. The ensuing decades would find him
working patiently (often eighty hours a week) in his darkroom, carefully
crafting some of the finest color prints the world had ever seen. Brett Weston
often observed "the integrity of a photograph depends upon the
photographer making his own prints because there are too many decisions in a
darkroom that cannot be made by a third party absent from the making of an
original negative.” Burkett painstakingly devoted himself to preserving the
veracity of his images, striving to show the viewer what he "saw"
firsthand in the American wilderness. In one memorable image (Twilight, Virgin River and Zion Canyon, Utah)
the photographer was inspired to invest five years of technical effort before
considering the resulting image to be an accurate, worthy visual
Choosing the unaltered
pristine landscape as his primary subject matter was a considered and
intentional decision, as was Burkett's eventual resolve to commit his
photographic effort to color, rather than black and white. "The world was
created in color" is Burkett's succinct explanation, and it is his abiding
intent to present the world itself, unveiled in its ultimate reality/radiance,
rather than imposing his own personal interpretation.
Gifted with a contemplative
spirit as well as painter's eye, Burkett has an uncommon ability to capture the
natural world in a manner that simultaneously reflects "the world behind
the world" as Minor White and Paul Caponigro might have put it. And
although Burkett has been compared by curators to American color landscape photographers
Eliot Porter and Ernst Haas whose genre of American landscape photography he extended, neither
of them exclusively printed their own transparencies/negatives or attempted the
darkroom standard clearly in evidence upon viewing a Burkett original print.
his most recent decade, Burkett has turned his attention to a series that he
refers to as "the museum prints.” Issued in an edition of fifteen, these Cibachromes are personally hand
printed in historically unprecedented dimensions ranging from 40"x40"
and 40"x50" to 24"x62". Burkett considers these prints the
summit of his darkroom achievement and appreciates their inclusion in
collections of museums and public spaces where they can be more closely
examined by scholars, curators, and reach an ever widening viewing audience.
Museum Collections include: Portland Art Museum, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Center for Creative Photography and Tucson Museum of Art.
View PBS Special Feature on Christopher Burkett HERE