Works for Sale
Alex Maclean's aerial photography is chiefly concerned with development, industry and humanity’s footprint on the natural world.
Alex MacLean Prints For Sale (29):
Oil Swirls Among Wastewater, Suncor Mine, Alberta, Canada, 2014
Starting from £1,700Enquire
Alex MacLean was born in Seattle on 8 January 1947 and spent his childhood growing up on an eleven acre “hobby farm”, just outside Washington DC. He was interested in photography from an early age and when he was nine went on holiday to Europe, taking his clamshell Brownie camera. MacLean’s passion for photography developed as he reached his teenage years.
Whilst studying for his undergraduate degree at Harvard University, he enjoyed photographing the landscapes of subsistence farming surrounding him. MacLean went on to gain a Masters degree in architecture from Harvard Graduate School of Design and graduated in 1973. As part of the course he regularly undertook field research, using his camera as the main source for gathering information. When he was offered the chance to research from the air, MacLean discovered it gave him the best view for site analysis.
In 1975, MacLean went on to acquire his pilot licence. This helped him fulfil his ambition to photograph our rapidly changing environment and document our impact on the landscapes below. That same year MacLean founded his company, “Landslides”, specialising in aerial photography for architects, designers, planners and environmentalists. MacLean has gone on to amass an archive of over 350,000 images of streetscapes, parks, gardens, campuses, plazas, mining and extraction pits and urban design developments across parts of America and Europe. The commissions MacLean has received through “Landslides” also allow him to explore his personal artistic practice, which is chiefly concerned with development, industry and humanity’s footprint on the natural world. With only one minor accident and one camera lens lost, MacLean continues to spend two to three hours per day flying from one state to the next, observing the dramatic landscape below. As he said in an interview for Photographer’s Forum in 1994: “It’s easy to fall into imitations yourself. I try to take a fresh approach to all the shots, to be really open to what I’m seeing rather having a premeditated idea about what I’m going to shoot, or forcing a statement out of something that’s not there. My good pictures really come from my being responsive.”
His images reveal the complexities and absurdities of contemporary life across America and Europe. MacLean has taken photographs 1000 feet above northern Alberta’s oil operation. The tar sands, more commonly referred to in Canada as the oil sands, are the world’s third-largest petroleum reserve. This expansive and ongoing project documents the destruction of forests natural wildlife in around tar sands in Alberta. The sublime beauty of the wilderness in Alberta is shown by MacLean to be sharply punctuated with vast areas of slick oil sheens and smoke columns rising from refineries.
Awards & Grants
MacLean is the author of eleven books and has won numerous awards, such as the CORINE International Book Award and the American Academy of Rome’s Prix de Rome in Landscape Architecture (2003-2004). He has also received grants from foundations such as the National Endowment for the Arts and the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting in 2014. MacLean lives and works in Lincoln, Massachusetts.