Stephen Shore | Uncommon Places 1973–1979: Vintage Prints

New York

8 March — 16 April 2005

Press Release

Edwynn Houk Gallery is pleased to present a selection of 38 vintage chromogenic photographs by Stephen Shore, from the photographer’s hallmark body of work, Uncommon Places. The series, photographed from 1973-1979, documents what the artist calls, The Built American Environment, consisting of landscapes, interiors, portraits, and the details of everyday life across North America in the 1970s. According to artists Andreas Gursky and Thomas Struth, this body of work has been highly influential to many artists of their generation. The exhibition includes a number of images from the republished and unabridged monograph of the same title. The exhibition opens on Tuesday, March 8 and runs through the 16th of April.

Stephen Shore (b. 1947) was just 14 years old when Edward Steichen purchased a group of the photographs for the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Throughout his later teenage years, Shore regularly frequented Andy Warhol’s Factory, gleaning essential aspects of pop and conceptual art that he would incorporate into his own work. In 1971, the artist became the first living photographer to have a one-man show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The foundations of his personal style laid thus, Shore began working with large-format cameras. He continued his pioneering efforts with color film and from 1973-1979, made a series of road trips across North America. With an increasingly heightened awareness towards what he deems the grammar of photographs—flatness, frame, time, focus—it was in these six years that Shore created, Uncommon Places: his own take on the American vernacular landscape. 

Previously defined by the black and white photography of Walker Evans and Robert Frank, Shore’s photographs are imbued with particular cultural resonances. These, combined with his use of color film and formalist mode, Shore's style set a precedent for contemporary artists that both Thomas Struth and Andreas Gursky, in particular, graciously acknowledge. Uncommon Places was first published by Aperture in 1982. The book contained 49 plates—all landscape photographs from Shore’s six years on the road. In 2003, Aperture and Shore released Uncommon Places: The Complete Works, a supremely comprehensive body of the innovative series containing over 60 previously unpublished photographs.

A two-time National Endowment for the Arts Fellow and a recipient of the Guggenheim Foundation Grant, Stephen Shore is currently the Susan Weber Soros Professor in the Arts at Bard College in New York. In addition to numerous one person and group exhibitions in the United States and Europe over the past thirty years, Shore’s photographs are in the permanent collections of many museums including the Museum of Modern Art (NY), the Metropolitan Museum of Art (NY), the Whitney Museum of American Art (NY), the Victoria and Albert Museum (London), and the Sprengel Museum (Germany).