Synopses & Reviews
Originally published by Aperture in 1982 and long unavailable, Stephen Shore's now legendary book Uncommon Places
has influenced a generation of photographers. Shore was among the first artists to take color beyond the domain of advertising and fashion photography. Uncommon Places
--his visionary series of images of the American vernacular landscape of the seventies and early eighties--stands at the root of what has become a vital photographic tradition over the past three decades.
Uncommon Places: The Complete Works presents an expanded, definitive collection of the early work of this major artist, much of which has never before been published or exhibited. In 1972 Shore set out with a friend for Amarillo, Texas and--like Robert Frank and Walker Evans before him--discovered a hitherto unarticulated vision of America via highway and camera.
Shore approaches his subjects with cool objectivity, the photographs seemingly devoid of drama or commentary. Yet each image has been distilled, retaining precise internal systems of gestures in composition and light through which a parking lot emptied of people, a hotel bedroom, or a building on a side street assumes both an archetypal aura and an ambiguously personal importance. In contrast to Shore's signature landscape images, this new, expanded survey of the original series reveals equally substantial collections of interiors and portraits.
Shore's broad influence can be seen today in the work of countless contemporary photographers--Thomas Struth, Andreas Gursky and Catherine Opie among them. Uncommon Places: The Complete Works provides an opportunity to reexamine the diverse implications of Shore's groundbreaking project and offers a fundamental primer for the last thirty years of large-format color photography.
"A teenaged photographic aspirant who hung around at Andy Warhol's factory in its mid-60s heyday, Shore found success early: his first show at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art was held when he was only 23. These 152 full-page, full-color shots comprise his serial project of the 70s, 'Uncommon Places,' which documented roadside America with a dispassionate, Andy-like emptiness. It's an aesthetic that has been endlessly co-opted by American filmmakers like Gus Van Sant and Jim Jarmusch, but some of these 12 7/8' × 10 5/16' shots of prairies, parking lots, polyester-clad couples and plastic hotel furnishings manage to seem fresh nonetheless. Shore's concluding interview with Lynn Tillman makes the Warhol connection explicit, and argues for a kind of meaning-making from the void: 'Formalism often sounds like a kind of visual nicety, but if I use it, that's not how I mean it.' Beautiful, lush reproductions with minimal captions allow the photos to speak for themselves." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Published by Aperture in 1982 and long unavailable, Stephen Shore's legendary Uncommon Places has influenced a generation of photographers. Among the first artists to take color beyond advertising and fashion photography, Shore's large-format color work on the American vernacular landscape stands at the root of what has become a vital photographic tradition. Uncommon Places: The Complete Works presents a definitive collection of the original series, much of it never before published or exhibited. Like Robert Frank and Walker Evans before him, Shore discovered a hitherto unarticulated version of America via highway and camera. Approaching his subjects with cool objectivity, Shore's images retain precise internal systems of gestures in composition and light through which the objects before his lens assume both an archetypal aura and an ambiguously personal importance. In contrast to Shore's signature landscapes with which Un-common Places is often associated, this expanded survey reveals equally remarkable collections of interiors and portraits.
As a new generation of artists expands on the projects of the New Topographic and New Color photographers of the seventies--Thomas Struth (whose first book was titled Unconscious Places), Andreas Gursky, and Catherine Opie among them--Uncommon Places: The Complete Works provides a timely opportunity to reexamine the diverse implications of Shore's project and offers a fundamental primer for the last thirty years of large-format color photography.
Essay by Stephan Schmidt-Wulffen. Interview by Lynne Tillman.
About the Author
At the age of 24, Stephen Shore
became the first living photographer to have a one-man show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Among his numerous other one-man shows, Shore has exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf. He has received several awards for his photography including two National Endowment for the Arts Grants and a Guggenheim Foundation Grant. He has been the Chair of the photography department at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y. since 1982.