STEPHEN SHORE (Born 1947)

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U.S. 2, IRONWOOD, MICHIGAN, JULY 9, 1973 by STEPHEN SHORE (Born 1947) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

U.S. 2, IRONWOOD, MICHIGAN, JULY 9, 1973

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P.O.A

   

Stephen Shore was born in 1947 in New York. He was interested in photography from a very early age. He taught himself the fundamentals of photography, after being given a darkroom kit, aged just six years old, from an uncle. He was also given a copy of Walker Evans book American Photographs at ten years old, which had a long and profound influence on his approach to photography. At age fourteen he presented his photographs to the curator of photography at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Edward Steichen. Steichen was impressed by the young photographer, and purchased three prints. Shore met Andy Warhol as a teenager and photographed the artist and his circle in his studio, The Factory. In 1971, aged just 24, Stephen Shore became the first photographer to have a one-man show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, since Alfred Stieglitz, forty years earlier.

In 1972 Shore set of on a road trip across North America, documenting the brief encounters with the ever changing landscape as well as the people he met along the way. Using 35mm film, Shore photographed relentlessly, capturing with rigorous detail each meal he ate and TV he watched along the way. The result was hundreds of exquisitely composed colour photographs that Shore eventually published as American Surfaces .

A later series of road trips saw Shore move from participant to neutral observer. He coolly captured the built environment with his 8 x 10 inch view camera, aiming to show people what they were not seeing . These photographs are collected in his seminal publication, "Uncommon Places". The images transform the overlooked and often mundane scenery of small-town America into compelling and beautiful meditations on American life.

Uncommon Places represented a radical new perspective not only on the American landscape but also in the use of colour. Shore was one of the first photographers to take colour beyond the domain of advertising and fashion photography. Focusing on the banal and the overlooked, Shore introduced a whole new visual vocabulary to the documentary tradition. Empty Coca-Cola cans, dusty Cadillacs and endless empty stretches of road have now become shorthand for America and American-ness. Shore, along with his contemporaries William Eggleston and Joel Meyerowitz, pioneered this way of looking and cultivated the culture of the everyday. "To see something spectacular and recognise it as a photographic possibility is not making a very big leap," Shore has said. "But to see something ordinary, something you'd see every day, and recognise it as a photographic possibility that's what I'm interested in."

Ground-breaking in his rejection of slick compositions and artful editing of advertising photography as well as Cartier-Bresson's "decisive moment," Shore approached his subjects with objectivity and a slow, deliberate assessing of space. Shore worked in the tradition of Robert Frank and Walker Evans, documenting a vernacular landscape, and an ordinary daily life as a distanced, neutral observer. He has stated, "what I was after was not a study of main streets, but the quintessential main street".

Uncommon Places has influenced generations of photographers since its publication in 1982 and is a now considered a classic of colour photography. Shore's work has been widely published and exhibited for the past forty-five years, and in 2010 he received an Honorary Fellowship from The Royal Photographic Society. He is the director of the photography program at Bard College in New York.

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