Canadian Photography's Best Kept Secret

January 8, 2011 | John Elmslie

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Lovers of contemporary photography, will know the names of Canadian photographers Jeff Wall and Edward Burtynsky, but may not be familiar with the work of Robert Polidori.

Polidori was born in Montreal in 1951. He now works internationally. He is a staff photographer for the New Yorker. Over the past 10 years he has created a body of work that places him among the best photographers of our time.

Havana tilted

Polidori has been publishing since 1991, but it wasn't until 2001 that prestigious German publisher, Steidl, published Polidori's first masterpiece, Havana. It is a stunning achievement: a love letter to the the faded grandeur of that city.


In 2003, Steidl published Polidori's most challenging work. Zones of Exclusion: Pripyat and Chernobyl is a close look at what remains after one of the defining disasters of the last century. These pictures are terrifying, yet strangely beautiful.

Robert Polidori's Metropolis, published in 2004 is a survey of his other projects. It is an absorbing read because each photo has a commentary by the photographer.

After the Flood, 2006, contains Polidori's photographs of New Orleans after the devastation of Katrina. The cover only hints at the shocking images of disaray within.

Parcours Muséologique Revisité, is Polidori's most ambitious project to date. For the past 25 years he's been taking pictues of the restoration of the Palace of Versailles in Paris. After careful editing 480 colour plates have been published in three volumes.

Polidori's Toronto dealer has a nice selection of Polidori's photographs.