Since I was in high school, photographs depicting the cultural American landscape was something that intrigued me and Stephen Shore's work was very much a part of that genre. His unfiltered, comical, and poetic look at the 20th century landscape represented everything that i understood about the world. The most visible landscape photographic work, to me as a young person, was Ansel Adams...and his landscape pictures are lovely and in some circumstances they are even breathtaking- but they were not from the world I saw in front of me. I believed that there were more metaphorical layers to the landscape than I was seeing in the art historical context- and it was not until i was exposed to contemporary work like Shore- Owens- Sternfeld-Klett etc... that landscape photography truly began speak to me.
Shore has a really interesting history. He started making pictures so young and found an audience for them very quickly. As a young person he hung out with Warhol and took many images of that scene (see below). There are several beautiful portraits in this series but my favorites are the environmental portraits which show the factory in all its glory.
Warhol with 'Silver Clouds' in Factory
Black and white photograph
19 x 12 3/4 inches
edition of 8
all content copyright 303 Gallery, New York, 2010Stephen Shore's book Uncommon Places is in my opinion one of the most important photo book ever created. Mostly because it gave the next generation of artists the ok to creatively explore our society's cliches, contradictions, weirdness, sprawl and all the ugly that oozes to the surface of our landscape. It is not going to produce a perfect Ansel Adams- but it will create a new kind of beautiful. One that comes only with individual perspective and freedom. One that exists to explore instead of simply satisfy. Shore is like the Dean Moriarty of the art world- on the bus and ready to go.