The influence of Stephen Shore’s work on the contemporary art of photography

“New York, New York” (March 1972), Stephen Shore

Photographer Stephen Shore, who demonstrates his own photos at the New York Museum of Modern Art at the age of 14, is more recognized for his bright pictures of landscapes, places, and people across the USA.

The most famous artist’s collection is “American Surfaces”, which includes hundreds of photos taken in the early 1970s in the road journey from New York to Amarillo, Texas. Once made fun by experts put off by his modern feeling for a color photo, “American Surfaces” is now found one of the most popular photo series of all time. This month, Phaidonb (global publisher) has issued a renewed monograph devoted to the series that presents 40 before unknown photos.

The influence of Stephen Shore's work on the contemporary art of photography
“New York, New York” (July 1972), Stephen Shore

Shore began his road trip in 1972. At the age of 24, Shore began his journey from New York and went to Texas, visiting 19 states and Washington. In these trips, he created 174 tiny coloring pictures from the tour, later displaying them at the since-closed Light Gallery in New York. Shore’s photo method wasn’t decorated — his images were gray and not aesthetic, in spite of many similar images of American life being made at the time. His presentation at the art at Light Gallery was so awful — they were fixed to the museum’s walls with double-sided tape. At only five inches wide, all images looked like a postcard.

The influence of Stephen Shore's work on the contemporary art of photography
“New York” (April 1972)

In the essay for Phaidon’s new monograph, analyst, curator, and photographer Teju Cole writes that Shore’s popular line “at first was accepted with some perplexity before it made as an American classic.” The trouble was obvious: Shore’s photos had nothing like the photography technique in style for the period that placed an accent on sharp stories and “crucial times”, said Henri Cartier-Bresson. Besides, Shore’s photos were in color, not black and white — which some experts interpreted as a refusal of the modernists who were before him. Shore told that he was trying for a less shining expression with his photos: “I needed photos that seemed as simple as conversing.”

The influence of Stephen Shore's work on the contemporary art of photography
Self-Portrait “New York, New York” (March 20, 1976)

Free Shore photos easily captured the soul of people and places. “American Surfaces” includes photographs of people Shor met on his travels, large and abandoned roads, unique display cases, food, and much more.

Shore turned on the camera for looks that seem ordinary at first sight.But these were photos without a taste of romance that usually follow trips around America. Shore was not shy about creating pictures with dirty sheets, pots and gray rooms with ordinary people.


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