STEPHEN WILKES | Tunnel View, Yosemite National Park, Day to Night™

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Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery
Tunnel View, Yosemite National Park, Day to Night™, 2014
Archival C- Print
Signed verso on mount & signature label
10/20 (edition of 20)
38 x 54 x 2.5 in. (framed) 32 x 48 in. (unframed)


The artist

The inspiration for this image was Albert Bierstadt’s painting “ Yosemite Valley .” Stephen actually brought a small printout of it with him, while scouting the location for inspiration. Getting this view required perhaps the most challenging setup he’s ever had— tethered, along with two of his assistants to the edge of a rock outcropping at a 45-degree angle. The working area was the size of a four-by-eight piece of plywood, perched on top of tunnel view; the slightest misstep could have toppled the camera over the edge.

Once he began shooting, his focus was solely on the ebb and flow of light and people in the foreground. Most of the great works that have been done on Yosemite don’t include people, and he wanted to create a photograph that celebrated not only it’s breadth and scale but also the way humanity interacts with it. Busloads of people visit Yosemite every single day and he wanted to capture the many individual moments that took place over 36 hours. “My favorite moment was when a father having fun with his daughter, threw her up almost 8ft into the air.”

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.