Shore’s Singular Vision

An uncompromising pursuit of photography’s possibilities has guided Stephen Shore’s (b.1947) career, from the prints he made as a teenager to his recent encounters with digital platforms. From gaining recognition at the age of 14, the exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, traces Shore’s ever-developing practice.

Enamoured by the discipline from an early age, he began creating visuals as a child, motivated significantly by Walker Evan’s book American Photographs (1938). Shore’s unmistakeable talent was recognised first by Edward Steichen, the Director of the Department of Photography at MoMA, who purchased three compositions from the teenager in 1961. At the age of 17, he began to frequent Andy Warhol’s studio The Factory, capturing the creative figures who quickly became a source of inspiration. In 1971, when Shore was 24, a solo exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art demonstrated the innovative interrogation of image-making that would become his signature style. This event marked him as one of the youngest living practitioners to be featured at The Met. Already recognised as a key figure in the creative scene of the late 20th century, Shore then embarked on a series of cross-country trips, a period that catalysed his interest in colour photography. Figures such as Nan Goldin, Martin Parr, Joel Sternfeld and Thomas Struth have acknowledged his influence in their work.

Hundreds of compositions, books, ephemera and objects come together for MoMA’s survey of Shore, shedding light on an expansive oeuvre. Monochrome and colour visuals, films, portfolios and digital works provide viewers with a fuller understanding of the diversity of his output. A range of both historic and recent prints feature many that have never been published or exhibited, including pieces from his conceptual projects, Uncommon Places (1982), American Surfaces (2008), depictions of landscapes from the 1980s, alongside his recent studies of Israel and Ukraine. The restless manner in which Shore tested the boundaries of his discipline is at the heart of the exhibition. From his days at Warhol’s Factory, and through the development of colour cinematography, the exhibition comes up to date with the transition to large-scale digital images.

Stephen Shore, MoMA, New York, from 19 November.

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1. Stephen Shore, Uncommon Places (1982).