Over the last half-century, Stephen Shore (born 1947, New York City) has produced an expansive body of work that has shaped our vision of the American experience from the 1960s to today. In 1971, at age twenty-four, he was the first living photographer in forty years to receive a solo exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and he was a key figure in the recognition of color photography as an artistic medium.
Shore’s experimentations with his recently acquired camera have resulted in the series Details (2017–ongoing), which serves as the cornerstone of this exhibition. Natural and human-made elements come into intimate contact with one another across the series, as in bird’s eye scenes of scattered leaves on asphalt sharing space with Dunkin’ Donuts bags, cigarette butts, and bottle tops; or a frontal view of ancient murals carved onto mottled, sediment-laden rock. In these pictures Shore manages to hold in careful balance the sense of a photograph as a transparent index of the world and, at the same time, an artful combination of light, line and color.
Another popular body of work, Los Angeles, California, February 4, 1969 was created almost exactly fifty years ago, and marks a moment in which Shore was testing new ways of structuring his pictures. Intrigued by the focus on popular culture he had witnessed while spending time in Andy Warhol’s Factory (1965–68) in NYC, the young photographer took advantage of a trip to Los Angeles to create a new kind of photographic project: he established several constraints, including that he would shoot mainly from the back seat of a car and that he would keep every picture he took, in the order in which he took them. The result is an impressive stream-of-consciousness view of one day in the City of Angels.
Stephen Shore lives in Tivoli, New York, and since 1982 has been Director of the Photography Program at Bard College. A major retrospective of his work was on view at the Museum of Modern Art, New York just last year.