Sixty Years of Stephen Shore's Ability to Turn Everyday Life into Art
Few photographers have been as influential on the evolution of the art of photography as the American photographer Stephen Shore. One of the pioneers of color photography, he continuously challenges the established conventions of the medium by turning his camera to the mundane.
To see something spectacular and recognize it as a photographic possibility is not making a very big leap. But to see something ordinary, something you’d see every day, and recognize it as a photographic possibility – that’s what I’m interested in.
Indeed, this remarkable ability to turn the ordinary world into art is what makes his work so pervasive an influence. The Museum of Modern Art will soon host the first U.S. exhibition to encompass the entire career of this iconic photographer.
Simply titled Stephen Shore, the exhibition will trace his career from the wunderkind beginnings he made as a 14-year-old through his continual, restless exploration of his chosen medium.
The Practice of Stephen Shore
For Stephen Shore, photography was never a way of recording personal experience particularly, but a process of exploring the world and the medium itself. One of the pivotal photo-makers to emerge in the last half of the twentieth century, he rose to prominence in the 1970s by photographing everyday scenes, countering the notion that photography had to follow pictorial or dogmatically formal means in order to be perceived as art.
Documenting settings and objects, from hotel swimming pools and televisions to parking lots, billboards, gas stations, and deserted roads, Shore transformed these seemingly banal commonplace surroundings into true works of art.
Attracted to color photography for its ability to record the range and intensity of hues seen in life, he has pushed the then-set boundaries of the medium, establishing a new visual vocabulary.
Tracing the Entire Career of Stephen Shore
The first New York survey of his work in 10 years, Stephen Shore at MoMA will trace his entire career, from the gelatin silver prints he made as a teenager to his current work with digital platforms.
It will feature historic and recent prints of black-and-white and color photographs, as well as books, periodicals, films, portfolios, and digital works – including many that are now being exhibited for the first time – from his Conceptual projects; the American Surfaces and Uncommon Places series; his landscapes of the 1980s; commissions; and his recent explorations of Israel and Ukraine.
Marking the artist’s full oeuvre in the context of his time, the show will highlight his singular vision and uncompromising pursuit of the medium’s possibilities.
Stephen Shore Retrospective at MoMA
The exhibition Stephen Shore will be on view at the Museum of Modern Art in New York from November 19th, 2017, until May 28th, 2018. The exhibition is organized by Quentin Bajac, The Joel and Anne Ehrenkranz Chief Curator, with Kristen Gaylord, Beaumont & Nancy Newhall Curatorial Fellow, Department of Photography, MoMA. It will be accompanied by a comprehensive catalog edited by Mr. Bajac.
Major support for Stephen Shore is provided by The William Randolph Hearst Endowment Fund, an anonymous donor, The International Council of The Museum of Modern Art, and by David Dechman and Michel Mercure. Additional support is provided by the Annual Exhibition Fund. Support for the publication is provided by the Jo Carole Lauder Publications Fund of The International Council of The Museum of Modern Art.
Featured images: Stephen Shore – Kanab, Utah, June 1972, 1972. Chromogenic color print, printed 2017, Chromogenic color print, 3 1/16 × 4 5/8″ (7.8 × 11.7 cm); New York, New York, 1964. Gelatin silver print, 9 1/8 × 13 1/2″ (23.2 × 34.3 cm); 1:35 a.m., in Chinatown Restaurant, New York, New York, 1965–67. Gelatin silver print, printed c. 1995. 9 × 13 1/2″ (22.9 × 34.3 cm); West Third Street, Parkersburg, West Virginia, May 16, 1974, 1974. Chromogenic color print, 8 × 10 1/2″ (20.3 × 26.7 cm); West Ninth Avenue, Amarillo, Texas, October 2, 1974, 1974. Chromogenic color print, printed 2013, 17 × 21 3/4″ (43.2 × 55.2 cm). Acquired through the generosity of an anonymous donor; South of Klamath Falls, Oregon, July 21, 1973, 1973. Chromogenic color print, printed 2002, 17 3/4 x 21 15/16″ (45.1 x 55.7 cm). The Photography Council Fund; Peqi’in, Israel, September 22, 2009, 2009. Chromogenic color print, 17 × 21 3/4″ (43.2 × 55.2 cm). Gift of the artist; Lookout Hotel, Ogunquit, Maine, July 16, 1974, 1974. Chromogenic color print, printed 2013, 17 × 21 3/4″ (43.2 × 55.2 cm). Acquired through the generosity of an anonymous donor; Graig Nettles, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, March 1, 1978, 1978. Chromogenic color print, 7 11/16 x 9 11/16″ (19.5 x 24.6 cm). Acquired with matching funds from Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller and the National Endowment for the Arts, 1978; Giverny, France, 1977, 1977. Chromogenic color print, 7 11/16 x 9 5/8″ (19.5 x 24.5 cm). Gift of the Estate of Lila Acheson Wallace; County of Sutherland, Scotland, 1988, 1988. Chromogenic color print, 35 1/2 × 45 1/2″ (90.2 × 115.6 cm). Gift of Susan and Arthur Fleischer, Jr; Beverly Boulevard and La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles, California, June 21, 1975, 1975. Chromogenic color print, printed 2013, 17 × 21 3/4″ (43.2 × 55.2 cm). Acquired through the generosity of Thomas and Susan Dunn. All images courtesy the artist, The Museum of Modern Art, New York © 2017 Stephen Shore.