Robert Bourdeau spent several years photographing before being drawn into a deeper understanding of the medium by his discovery of Aperture Magazine. This led to a crucial encounter with American photographer Minor White in 1958, and a spiritual, decade-long friendship. Bourdeau’s tie with the school that emerged from Camera Work magazine was further enhanced by his friendship with another great American photographer, Paul Strand, in the late 60s and 70s.
Taken over the past four decades throughout Europe and North America, these large-format photographs document age-old landscapes, historical treasures of architecture nestled in the countryside, and inactive industrial sites reclaimed by nature. Working with a view camera, Bourdeau favours long exposures. Most of his photographs are contact printed, either from an 11x14-inch or an 8x10-inch negative, a method that allows for a minimal loss of definition in reproduction. Bourdeau 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.” He is also fascinated by the dark mysticism of medieval architecture and by brooding landscapes, the exactness of his photography discloses the hidden geometry of nature.