ORD: O’Hare Airfield 1989

Alvin Boyarsky has described O’Hare Airport as Chicago’s Versailles. Between 1984 and 1988 Robert Burley photographed O’Hare as an unexplored urban landscape, in this case a mid western prairie adapted to accommodate air travel. His objective was to explore this large tract of land that was usually experienced either from the air, or from a runway travelling at high speeds using his view camera at ground level. He was interested in the abrupt transition between the densely populated terminals and the edges of the airfield that included picturesque wooded areas inhabited only by wildlife. Two years into the project he began to work with Larry Viskochil, Curator of Photography at the Chicago History Museum (CHM) on an exhibition. In 1989, O’Hare Airport: Airfield on the Prairie, opened at the CHM with an accompanying catalogue. The exhibition of 103 chromogenic prints, along with additional images not included in the show, were acquired by the CHM for the Prints and Photographs Collection.

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