STEPHEN WILKES | Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, Day to Night™

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Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, Day to Night™, 2015
Archival C- Print
Signed verso on mount & signature label
Edition 33/50 + 5 AP
30 x 46.5 x 2 in. (framed) 20 x 40.5 in. (unframed)


The artist

In February of 2015 Wilkes traveled to Tanzania during the peak migration to create a new Day to Night photograph. To find the perfect location would be difficult. Photographing the changing of time with wildlife instead of his usual focus on the human elements would be incredibly challenging. “Photographing people is predictable, as we’re like minded creatures of habit. In capturing the varied species of the Serengeti, I knew everything had to break right in order to make this photograph, and luck was high on that list”.

Arriving in Tanzania in the midst of a five-week drought created tremendous unpredictability with migration patterns, but it led to a unique opportunity. Wilkes discovered a massive watering hole which he chose for his final location. Understanding that the wildlife was desperately looking for water, he studied this watering hole for several days prior to shooting. He eventually built a crocodile blind 18 feet above the ground where he remained for 26 consecutive hours; capturing these remarkable species coming together to share this one sacred resource- water.

Since opening his studio in New York City in 1983 Stephen Wilkes (American, b. 1957 in New York, NY) has built an unprecedented body of work and a reputation as one of America’s most iconic photographers, widely recognized for his fine art, editorial and commercial work.

In 1998, a one-day assignment to the south side of Ellis Island led to a 5-year photographic study of the island’s long abandoned medical wards where immigrants were detained before they could enter America. Through his photographs and video, Wilkes helped secure $6 million toward the restoration of the south side of the island. A monograph based on the work, Ellis Island: Ghosts of Freedom, was published in 2006 and was named one of TIME magazine’s 5 Best Photography Books of the Year.

Day to Night, Wilkes’ most defining project, began in 2009. These epic cityscapes and landscapes, portrayed from a fixed camera angle for up to 30 hours capture fleeting moments of humanity as light passes in front of his lens over the course of a full day. Blending these images into a single photograph takes months to complete. Day to Night has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning as well as dozens of other prominent media outlets and, with a grant from the National Geographic Society, was extended to include America’s National Parks in celebration of their centennial anniversary and Bird Migration for the 2018 Year of the Bird. Most recently a new grant was extended for Canadian Iconic Species and Habitats at Risk in collaboration with The Royal Canadian Geographic Society. Day to Night : In the Field with Stephen Wilkes was exhibited at The National Geographic Museum in 2018. Day to Night was published by TASCHEN as a monograph in 2019.

Wilkes received his BS in photography from Syracuse University S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications with a minor in business management from the Whitman School of Management in 1980. His photographs are included in the collections of the George Eastman Museum, James A. Michener Art Museum, Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Dow Jones Collection, Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation, Jewish Museum of NY, Library of Congress, Snite Museum of Art, The Historic New Orleans Collection, Museum of the City of New York, 9/11 Memorial Museum and numerous private collections.

Wilkes' directorial debut, the documentary film, Jay Myself, world premiered at DOCNYC in November 2018. The film is an in depth look into the world of photographer, Jay Maisel and his move out of his 35,000 sq. foot building at 190 Bowery. Oscilloscope Laboratories has acquired the North American rights and the film opened at Film Forum in New York in July 2019.

Wilkes was a speaker at the TED2016: Dream Conference on his Day to Night series. The talk has over 1.9 million views.