How Mr Stephen Shore Made The Banal Brilliant
“Ginger Shore, Causeway Inn, Tampa, Florida”, 17 November 1977. From the Uncommon Places series. Photograph © Mr Stephen Shore. Courtesy 303 Gallery, New York.
Forget Instagrams of mountains and Michelin-starred meals. As well as snapping Mr Andy Warhol, New York photographer Mr Stephen Shore captured the magic of the everyday.
If you’re unfamiliar with the work of New York photographer Mr Stephen Shore, he is best known for pictures he took in the 1970s which feel a little like how you hope your Instagram feed might look after a trip across the US. If you’re thinking “But social media shots = banal,” well, that was sort of Mr Shore’s thing. “To see something spectacular and recognise it as a photographic possibility is not making a very big leap. 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,” he once said. Indeed, his famous American Surfaces collection – pictures of a road trip taken in the early 1970s and published in 1999 – saw him document everything from what he ate to the store windows he saw.
‘West Palm Beach, Florida’, April-May 1973. From the American Surfaces series. Photograph © Stephen Shore. Courtesy 303 Gallery, New York.
Now known as a pioneer of colour photography (and also the straight, super-realistic type of documentation now common in modern photography), Mr Shore sold his first black-and-white photographs to New York’s Museum of Modern Art at the age of 14. A few years later, he was hanging around Mr Andy Warhol’s Factory taking photographs of the famous artist and his coterie of hangers-on (The Velvet Years: Warhol’s Factory 1965–1967 was published in 1995). When Mr Shore made the switch to colour in 1972, announced with an exhibition at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, legendary photographer Mr Paul Strand told him it would end his career. But his shots soon came to be as respected as the likes of Mr William Eggleston, and Mr Shore’s 1982 book Uncommon Places cemented them as works of art.
“Beverly Boulevard at La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles, California”, 21 June 1975. From the Uncommon Places series. Photograph © Mr Stephen Shore. Courtesy 303 Gallery, New York
Given that when we revisit the work of an artist, we often do so with a focus on a certain theme or time period in their career, the Mr Stephen Shore retrospective – which opens on 10 June at Huis Marseille, Netherlands – is notable for its exhaustiveness. The exhibition is comprised of over 200 pieces of work spanning 1960-2013 and is open until 4 September.