My affinity for photographer Stephen Shore’s Americana began with the above image of Kalispell, Montana. Though I’d never been to Kalispell, my grandmother grew up there and Shore’s photograph perfectly embodied the place my young mind had shaped from her stories. Years later, it was featured in Dossier Issue 2. This same enchanting maturation of vivid reality to iconic imagery runs through photographer Joel Meyerowitz’s work in the book Cape Light, published in 1979 and excerpted in our current issue.
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"Until I was twenty- three, I lived mostly in a few square miles in Manhattan. In 1972, I set out with a friend for Amarillo, Texas. I didn't drive, so my first view of America was framed by the passenger's window. It was a shock." Stephen Shore, 1982
In May 2004, Aperture released 'Uncommon Places: The complete Works', a revised and expanded version of Stephen Shore's masterwork. Nearly one hundred images were added to the book's original forty plates, finally revealing the true diversity and complexity of Shore's initial vision.
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Stephen Shore is among the most important pioneers of both color art photography and new approaches to landscape. A prodigy of the medium, he was given a darkroom kit at the age of six, and at fourteen Edward Steichen bought his work for the Museum of Modern Art. A habitué of Warhol’s factory in his late teens, in the 1970s he set off on a series of road trips around the United States, producing a body of photographs which have been acknowledged as a crucial influence by Andreas Gursky and Thomas Struth among others. In 1971 he became the youngest living photographer to have a solo exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Even though Stephen Shore’s black and white photography established him as a major talent as early as 1971, he is actually better known for his work in color, which he began three years later. He was included in the groundbreaking show New Topographics, at George Eastman House in Rochester, New York, in 1975, and this established the other major arena in which he would make his reputation, the imagery of the “man-altered landscape.” He saw himself in the tradition of America’s itinerant photographers - figures such as Walker Evans, Robert Frank and Garry Winogrand – yet Shore was interested in depopulated landscapes, which he captured with a detached air, an interest in formal composition, and an absence of overt commentary. His mastery of both new directions – in color, and in approach to subject matter – was confirmed with a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 1976.
But towards the end of that decade Shore shifted direction again. Commissioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, he produced a series of pictures of Monet’s garden at Giverny (The Gardens at Giverny, 1983). Since 1982, he has directed the Photography Program at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, and in 1998 he published a personal exploration of the medium, entitled The Nature of Photographs (Phaidon).
Stephen Shore lives in upstate New York. His publications include Andy Warhol (1968); Uncommon Places (1982; expanded edition published by Aperture, 2005); The Velvet Years: Warhol’s Factory 1965-7 (Thunder’s Mouth, 1995); American Surfaces (1999; expanded edition published by Phaidon, 2008). Since his debut solo show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Shore has exhibited at galleries throughout the world, including the Art Institute of Chicago; George Eastman House, New York; and the International Center of Photography, New York. His work is held in major public and private collections including those of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Museum of Modern Art; Whitney Museum of American Art; Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.