An image of Stars #903

David Stephenson

(United States of America, Australia 1955 – )

Stars #903

Not on display
Further information

‘While the subject of my photographs has shifted from the landscapes of the American Southwest and Tasmania, and the minimal horizons of the Southern Ocean, and the icy wastes of Antarctica, to sacred architecture and the sky at both day and night, my art has remained essentially spiritual – for more than two decades I have been exploring a contemporary expression of the sublime – a transcendental experience of awe with the vast space and time of existence.’ David Stephenson 1998 1

David Stephenson has travelled the world in search of the sublime. This fascination is evident in his early landscape panoramas and also in his Antarctic photographs and 'Star' series of 1995. He strives to echo the human desire for transcendental meaning by making images that symbolise the enigmas of time and space, the experience of awe and wonder. From his 1990 series ‘Clouds’ to the later series ‘Stars’ the skies have held a certain appeal, partly because they represent the heavens, which are a timeless sign of transcendence. In ‘Stars’ Stephenson used a variety of techniques to capture the night sky, including long, multiple and periodic exposures, with delicate lines of light dashing or swirling across the surface of each print. They are drawings of light, marks traced by a star whose distance from us is without measure, signifying the vast nature of our cosmological universe. These images relate to the historical tradition of looking at the skies to both map our position and understand our place in the world.

1. Van Wyk S 1998, ‘Sublime space: photographs by David Stephenson 1989–1998’, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne np

© Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007

gelatin silver photograph
77.0 x 76.7 cm image; 79.4 x 79.3 cm sheet
Signature & date

Signed label verso, "David Stephenson ...". Not dated.

Purchased with funds provided by the Art Gallery Society of New South Wales Contempo Group 1997
Accession number
© David Stephenson