Stephen Wilkes: Time and Place


PRESS RELEASE: Stephen Wilkes: Time and Place, May 30 - Jul 13, 2024
Stephen Wilkes: Time and Place
May 30 – July 13, 2024
The solo exhibition at 530 West 24th Street features works from Wilkes’ signature Day to Night series, including captivating portraits of New York City, breathtaking panoramas of America’s National Parks, and iconic locations from around the world. An opening reception with Stephen Wilkes will be held on Thursday, May 30, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm.
March 29, 2024, New York, NY—Cavalier Gallery is delighted to announce a solo exhibition of photographs by National Geographic Explorer and self-described “collector of magical moments” Stephen Wilkes. The presentation in Chelsea centers on Wilkes’s trademark Day to Night series, a unique process by which the artist creates a composite image from up to 1,500 still frames captured over a 15-to-36-hour period, taken from a single vantage point. The resulting tapestries of time and place are marvels of artistry and technical expertise that combine Wilkes’s passions for history, the natural world, and our collective humanity.
Wilkes began his Day to Night series in 2009, in his beloved hometown of New York, the 24/7 city an ideal muse for his concept of a visual odyssey from sunrise to sunset. Time and Place features Wilkes’s portraits of Central Park in Snow, the Brooklyn Bridge, Times Square, and the Flat Iron District, among others. Capturing the energy and vitality of the city in a manner unmatched by traditional street photography, the aerial perspective and passage of time allow viewers to encounter the familiar in new and more abstract ways. Yellow cabs become a blurred school of fish in a river cutting through the canyon of Times Square. Tessellations of pedestrians form colorful mosaics, skyscrapers become mountain ranges, a cacophonous rainbow of artificial light plays against the natural drama of the arc of sun and moon.
After deciding on his ideal vantage point, Wilkes sets up his studio in a crane about 50 feet above ground and secures his camera position. Over the course of a day, he collects over a thousand pictures of “magical moments,” and over the course of a month or more, he carefully edits them down to the scores of individual frames that will be digitally stitched together to create the master plate, and ultimately the final work of art. Achieving a seamless and experiential quality in the composite image requires both mental gymnastics and a painterly technique. This quality is perhaps most evident in Wilkes’s landscapes, and in fact, his 2014 portrait of Yosemite Valley is directly inspired by Albert Bierstadt’s famous painting of the identical view created a century and a half before.
Visitors to the exhibition are greeted by the newest work in Wilkes’s National Parks series, an image of Bears Ears National Monument in Utah commissioned by National Geographic in 2022 for its “America the Beautiful” feature. The photographer’s reverence for the splendor of the sweeping vista before him is palpable in the way the light touches the landscape from the break of dawn to the cover of moonlight. Wilkes’s landscape photography follows the tradition of genre giants like Ansel Adams yet is distinctly contemporary in its use of modern image-making tools and the ways in which his art addresses critical issues such as climate change and species endangerment. Wilkes is not simply looking to document the beauty of the natural world, or the wonder of human civilizations, but to show the ways in which people interact with their environments and the impacts we have on each other over time.
Wilkes says that Day to Night has taught him transformational lessons about patience and the power of observation. In his magnificent work Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, Day to Night (2015), the photographer observed hosts of competing species sharing one watering hole during a severe drought, without violence and perhaps even with a recognition of mutual need. In a world where humans struggle and compete for access to this life-sustaining resource, Wilkes sees something both wondrous and instructive in this image of the animal kingdom—just one example of the narrative power of his art.
Stephen Wilkes: Time and Place
On view: May 30 –July 13, 2024
Artist reception: Thursday, May 30, 6:00–8:00 pm, 530 W 24th St, NYC
Gallery hours: Tuesday–Saturday, 10 am to 6 pm
Private viewings by appointment: Call 212-570-4696 or email
View the exhibition online at
About Stephen Wilkes
Since opening his studio in New York City in 1983, photographer Stephen Wilkes 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. Wilkes’ early career interpretations of Mainland China, California’s Highway One, and impressionistic “Burned Objects” set the tone for a series of career-defining projects.
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. The work was also featured on NPR and CBS Sunday Morning.
In 2000, Epson America commissioned Wilkes to create a millennial portrait of the United States, “America In Detail,” a 52-day odyssey that was exhibited in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
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 by the National Geographic Society for Day to Night of Canadian 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.  Another solo exhibition, Day to Night: Photographs by Stephen Wilkes, was presented at the Fenimore Museum in Cooperstown in 2023.  Day to Night was published by TASCHEN as a monograph in 2019 and reprinted in 2023.
Wilkes’ work documenting the ravages of Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy has brought heightened awareness to the realities of global climate change. He was commissioned by the Annenberg Space for Photography to revisit New Orleans in 2013 after documenting Hurricane Katrina for the World Monuments Fund. His photographs on Hurricane Sandy were exhibited in the 2014 Sink or Swim, Designing for a Sea of Change exhibition at the Annenberg Center for Photography. 
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 acquired the North American rights and the film opened at Film Forum in NYC in July 2019. Wilkes was a speaker at the TED2016: Dream Conference on his Day to Night series.  The talk has over 2 million views, and Wilkes participated in the TED Countdown Summit in October 2020. 
Wilkes traveled to Antarctica in 2021 to direct a short film on the capture of the Total Solar Eclipse as an immersive experience for MSG Sphere.  In 2023 Wilkes Day to Night photographs were exhibited at Palazzo Blu in Pisa, Italy. Wilkes was a featured speaker at Festival Delle Scienze, Roma. The topic was documenting the effects of climate change through his photography. 
Wilkes’ extensive awards and honors include the Alfred Eisenstaedt Award for Magazine Photography, Photographer of the Year from Adweek Magazine, Fine Art Photographer of the Year 2004 Lucie Award, TIME Magazine Top 10 Photographs of 2012, Sony World Photography Professional Award 2012, Adobe Breakthrough Photography Award 2012 and Prix Pictet, Consumption 2014. His board affiliations include the Advisory Board of the S.I. Newhouse School of Communications; Save Ellis Island Board of Directors, on which he served for 5 years; and the Goldring Arts Journalism Board.
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 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, Fenimore Art Museum, Art in Embassies, U.S. Department of State and numerous private collections. His editorial work has appeared in, and on the covers of, leading publications such as the New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, Time, Fortune, National Geographic, Sports Illustrated, and many others.
Wilkes was born in 1957 in New York. He 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.
Press Contacts:
Joellen Adae, Marketing Director, Cavalier Galleries
Lindsay Ebanks, Executive Director, Cavalier Galleries
Douglas McClemont, Director, Cavalier Gallery Chelsea