Stephen Shore (American, b. 1947) is a pioneer of color and vernacular photography. With a small number of contemporaries, he championed the elevation of color photography as art and redefined the documentary tradition in American photography. Shore’s vision of the ordinary world in full color is now so pervasive that its monumental influences are often taken for granted as inherent properties of photography. In particular, Andreas Gursky and Thomas Struth have acknowledged his work as inspiration.
Shore grew up in New York City with early exposure to the medium of photography and emerging artistic practices. At the age of six, he received a darkroom kit, teaching himself the art as he grew up. In his teens, Shore became a frequent visitor and photographer of Andy Warhol’s studio The Factory. There, the Pop concepts he encountered informed his interested in subjects that the conventional art world conventionally snubbed, including mundane objects, daily rituals, and commercial visual culture. It was also at this time that Shore began pursuing color photography, a technique that was entirely novel in the art world and denigrated as a commercial form acceptable only for amateur and advertising use. He was one of the first to recognize and advocate its value.
In the 1970s and ‘80s, Shore embarked on a series of coast-to-coast road trips through the United States to document the modern American landscape. Looking back to the traditions of masters Walker Evans, Robert Frank, and Garry Winogrand, he adopted straightforward perspectives and attention to formal composition as he visually catalogued the spirit of modern America. The resulting series, American Surfaces (1972) and Uncommon Places (1973-1982), established Shore’s mastery of hitherto unexplored directions in color and subject matter and are seminal contributions to the history of photography.
Shore began his career at a young age. While he was 14, the Museum of Modern Art acquired his prints under the leadership of Edward Steichen. In 1971, he earned the distinction of becoming the first living photographer since Alfred Stieglitz to receive a solo exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. More than 25 books have been published of his photographs, including Uncommon Places: The Complete Works; American Surfaces; and Stephen Shore, published by the Museum of Modern Art to accompany the artist's major retrospective through May 2018. Exhibitions of his work have been hosted at the Art Institute of Chicago, IL; International Center of Photography, NY; Kunsthalle, Dusseldorf; and Hammer Museum, CA. His work is held in major collections, including at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; Whitney Museum of American Art, NY; Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; and the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. The artist lives in Tivoli, New York.