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Pantheon c117-138, Rome, Italy

printed 2002


David Stephenson

United States of America, Australia

1955 -


‘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

With poetic symmetry the ‘Domes’ series considers analogous ideas. It is a body of work which has been ongoing since 1993 and now numbers several hundred images of domes in countries including Italy, Spain, Portugal, Turkey, England, Germany and Russia. The typological character of the series reveals the shifting history in architectural design, geometry and space across cultures and time, demonstrating how humankind has continually sought meaning by building ornate structures which reference a sacred realm.2 Stephenson photographs the oculus – the eye in the centre of each cupola. Regardless of religion, time or place, this entry to the heavens – each with unique architectural and decorative surround – is presented as an immaculate and enduring image. Placed together, the photographs impart the infinite variations of a single obsession, while also charting the passage of history, and time immemorial.

1. Van Wyk S 1998, ‘Sublime space: photographs by David Stephenson 1989–1998’, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne np
2. Hammond V 2005, ‘The dome in European architecture’, in Stephenson D 2005, ‘Visions of heaven: the dome in European architecture’, Princeton Architectural Press, New York p 190

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



printed 2002

Media category


Materials used

type C photograph




55.0 x 55.0 cm image; 82.3 x 84.5 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed and dated verso frame, black ink "David J Stephenson 1997/2002"


Purchased with funds provided by Ginny Green 2002


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

David Stephenson

Works in the collection


Shown in 2 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 2 publications


Natasha Bullock, Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 'Time - memory - place', pg.288-311, Sydney, 2007, 311 (colour illus.).

Vigen Galstyan, Look, 'Infinite flatness: exploring the intangible', pg. 28-29, Sydney, Oct 2012, 29.