Sant'ivo alla Sapienza 1645-50 Rome, Italy
United States of America, Australia
‘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
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 1997/2001"
Purchased with funds provided by Joanna Capon, and the Photography Collection Benefactors' Program 2002
Not on display
© David Stephenson
Shown in 2 exhibitions
Referenced in 1 publication
Vigen Galstyan, Look, 'Infinite flatness: exploring the intangible', pg. 28-29, Sydney, Oct 2012, 29.