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- Bárbara de Braganza, 13. 28004 Madrid
This first retrospective of Stephen Shore's work displayed the career of this American photographer who has received important awards and whose work has garnered a cult following.
Stephen Shore is one of the most obviously and remarkably influential contemporary photographers for several generations of artists. His contribution to the development of the language of photography has been fundamental both because of his strong body of work as well as for the theoretical aspects he has conveyed as a teacher. Throughout his extensive career, which started very early on given that he was exhibiting his work at the Metropolitan Art Museum in New York when he was only 23 years old, there have been more than fifty individual exhibitions of his work in prestigious museums.
This exhibition, produced by Fundación MAPFRE, exhibited more than 300 photographs and covered the main conceptual stages of his photography practice: a reflection on the language of photography, an analysis of landscape and the significant use of color and black and white. This selection included famous series such as Uncommon Places and American Surfaces together with some of his most important work undertaken later on in his career which had not been very widely published or had not been published at all.
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The Stephen Shore exhibition was organized in chronological order of the series that comprise his work through a selection of 320 photographs.
At the end of the 1970s, Shore carried out several photographic series of an experimental nature, some of which he would go on to exhibit in his individual exhibition at the Met in New York. The relentless, systematic and sequential nature of his photography, as well as the attention he paid to the exact aspect of the geographical or temporal position are characteristics that link these first pieces by Shore with the works of other conceptual artists of his day such as Douglas Huebler.
In the series Greetings from Amarillo. Tall in Texas (1972) Shore assigns himself the role of professional photographer in order to photograph local monuments in the city of Amarillo, turning them into a series of postcards that he himself distributed to newsstands and souvenir stores on his subsequent travels.
His first important project, American Surfaces, was carried out throughout his trips across the United States between 1972 and 1973. Shore was fascinated by the things he came across and decided to take a visual diary of his trip. All of this is photographed with an apparently neutral and emotionless air, incorporating the characteristics of utilitarian and amateur aesthetics.
In 1973 Stephen Shore decided to work with a large format camera and to subtly modify the appearance of his images as snapshots. He continued traveling the length and breadth of the United States, inspired by the same themes as American Surfaces although the camera itself, which required long exposures and a tripod, would slowly cause him to change his practice somewhat, giving rise to increasingly more complex compositions of urban and suburban territory. The project would reach its culmination in 1982 with the publication of a book entitled Uncommon Places.
From the 1980s Shore became more interested in natural landscapes. Staying true to his investigative side, he sought new challenges and limitations to confront and new ways in which he could deepen his knowledge. This time, he chose to dialog with one of the essential elements of the landscape genre: the picturesque. The Essex County series belong to this period as well as the large-scale landscapes he carried out in the mid-1980s.
The exhibition also included a selection of his panoramic shots taken on the streets of New York from 2000 to 2002. Together with these photographs two recently produced color series were also exhibited: Ukraine and Winslow, Arizona.
Ginger Shore, Causeway Inn, Tampa, Florida, 1977
From the Uncommon Places series
© Stephen Shore. Courtesy 303 Gallery, New York