STEPHEN SHORE, 303 Gallery, New York
Widely recognized as one of the most significant and influential artists of our time, Stephen Shore has principally restructured the language of photography. Tapping into popular culture and a specific type of American vernacular imagery, Shore has inspired generations of artists working with the photographic medium to find poetry and order in the mundane. His seminal bodies of work “Uncommon Places” and “American Surfaces” helped usher the relevance of American art in the postwar era, and remain canonical studies in photography’s potential to classify, conjure, and meditate on the social legacy of modernity.
Always curious to investigate new forms of image-making, Shore has enthusiastically embraced and adapted to the era of digital photography. His series of print-on-demand books from the early 2000s created elliptical narratives from seemingly offhand snaps of casual events, and used the genre of travel photography to both critique and construct history. The advent of the iPhone has allowed Shore to continue his cataloguing of the everyday through his Instagram feed. In early 2017, Shore discovered a new tool: the Hasselblad X1D, a digital camera using an iPhone-like touchscreen interface, but with a resolution equal to or even greater than what he was able to achieve with his typical 8×10 view camera setup.
The photographs in his exhibition at 303 Gallery are shot exclusively with the X1D, and focus on a new kind of landscape, as found in arrangements of natural phenomena and street detritus to create distinctly happenstance harmonies. Whether capturing a boulder peeking out of a sea of rippling water or deflated balloons loitering outside an exhaust grate, Shore’s keen eye for color, composition and light reveals the strange cosmic congruity of seemingly foreign and unrelated elements. In Shore’s New York, a stray branch floating on a sidewalk under a wall of navy blue bricks seems to suggest an entirely hidden world of phenomena; while a cigarette, a straw, and a leaf balanced on untended asphalt has the expressionist power of an early Kandinsky. Discovering his new camera’s ability to bring these intimate details into macro focus and print them into sharp, large-scale photographs, the intuitive and resolute constancy of Shore’s search for pictorial possibilities is obvious. An experimenter with a firm grasp of formality, Shore has produced work over the past fifty years that is a benchmark of photography’s potential. A major retrospective of Stephen Shore’s artistic career is currently on view at the Museum of Modern Art, New York until May 28, 2018. Recent solo exhibitions include C/O, Berlin; Fundación MAPFRE, Madrid; Aspen Art Museum; South African National Galley, Cape Town; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, PS1, New York; and the International Center for Photography, New York. He has shown extensively in international venues dating back to a solo exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1971, the first solo photography show at the museum. Monographs of Shore’s work have been published by Aperture, Phaidon, and Schirmer/Mosel, among others. His work is included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, San Francisco Museum Of Modern Art, Sprengel Museum, and the Library of Congress. He is the director of the photography program at Bard College in New York State. Shore lives and works in New York.