Life In The Wild At The Briscoe In San Antonio

Experience life in the wild through an exhibition of the stunning work of renowned wildlife photographer Thomas D. Mangelsen.

You may have seen what is perhaps Thomas D. Mangelsen’s most famous photograph: catch of the day, which captures the precise moment when a spawning salmon attempting to leap over a waterfall along Alaska’s Brooks River climbs straight into the waiting jaws of a giant brown bear. Not only is the image one of the most widely distributed wildlife photographs in history, it is also a monumental achievement in photography because it predates the advent of digital cameras and involves no digital manipulation.

catch of the dayThomas D. Mangelsen, 1988.

You can see this amazing shot among 40 classic images – some of which are 10 feet in diameter – by the world-renowned wildlife photographer at the exhibit A life in the wildon view from September 30 to January 29, 2023 at the Briscoe Western Art Museum in San Antonio.

Also included are the retrospective images, which Mangelsen personally selected as his estate photographs polar danceof polar bears that appear to be dancing, and mountain outlawof a grizzly bear charging through the snow.

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A change of seasonsThomas D Mangelsen, 1998.

Of course, not all of the photographs in the exhibit are of bears. The show features a veritable zoo of subjects captured in their original Western habitats, including American bison, arctic fox, bald eagle, black bear, bobcat, waxwing and cedar waxwing, brown bear, coyote, gray owl, grizzly bear, ground squirrel, kestrel, elk, mountain lion and sandhill cranes. Fantastic scenery includes Alaska’s Denali and Great Smoky Mountains, poppy and lupine fields, and forests of redwood and aspen.

dream catcherThomas D. Mangelsen, 2000.

The Gentle Giant – SilverbackThomas D Mangelsen, 2003.

eyes of the grizzlyThomas D Mangelsen, 2011.

WindsweptThomas D Mangelsen, 2008.


For 40 years, Mangelsen has traveled from North America to Africa and beyond in search of intimate photographic moments in nature, creating a unique body of work. One of the most prolific wildlife photographers of our time, he has been described as the spiritual descendant of pioneering American wildlife photographers Ansel Adams, Eliot Porter and Edward Weston. Bill Allen, the now-retired editor-in-chief of National Geographicconsiders Mangelsen to be one of the most important nature photographers of his generation.

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Mangelen is both a conservationist and an artist. He keeps company with other wildlife enthusiasts such as Jane Goodall, with whom he often works to raise awareness and funds for the conservation of the wild animals he captures with his lens.

Born of the north windThomas D Mangelsen, 1993.

In 2011 he was recognized by Conservation Photographer of the Year The best photography of natureby having his work included in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. He was named one of the 40 most influential wildlife photographers outdoor photographyand one of the 100 most important people in photography by American photo Magazine. The North American Nature Photography Association has named him Outstanding Nature Photographer of the Year, while the British Broadcasting Corporation has given him the coveted prestigious award Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

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At a time when digital technology has conditioned users to shorter attention spans, A life in the wilderness is a testament to the rewards that can be obtained by those who, like him, get close to nature and patiently wait.


Left: polar danceThomas D. Mangelsen, 1989. Right: light in the forestThomas D. Mangelsen, 1989.

A life in the wilderness is included in general museum admission. For more information visit The Briscoe Western Art Museum, 210 W Market St, San Antonio, 210.299.4499.

Inspired by photography? Enter the C&I Visions of the West Annual Photo Contest here.

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