Stephen Shore is truly the photographers’ photographer. But why, when you mention his name to those in-the-know, do the knees of A-list image makers tremble a bit? Imagista’s writer Lauren Festa and director Heidi Hartwig dispel the mystery of the man behind the mythology.
For over forty years, Stephen Shore has contributed his gift to the creative world through books, exhibitions and professorship. Nan Goldin, Andreas Gursky, Martin Parr, Joel Sternfeld and Thomas Struth have all acknowledged his huge influence on their work. Why? Perhaps because Shore is the only living photographer to ever have a one-man show at the MoMA in New York City, shown worldwide at the Kunsthalle in Dusseldorf, the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, the Jeu de Paume in Paris and the Art Institute of Chicago. He’s also received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation to The National Endowment for the Arts.
We could go on.
Shore himself has far fewer words for his photography. In fact, he demythologizes himself readily, describing much of his ground-breaking work as “taking a screenshot of his field of vision at various moments, or “seeing what it’s like to look, to stand back from seeing and really observe what I’m looking at and how I’m looking at it.”
Phaidon’s Editorial Director Amanda Renshaw calls Stephen’s work “photography at its most honest.” Indeed, his portfolio piques a sort of amateurish envy from among everyone except those who have been working in the field maybe just as long. Envy, however, for good reason because from the early 1970’s exhibitions at Light Gallery in New York where he sparked new interest in color photography and in the use of the view camera for documentary work, Shore has continually explored the camera and the image from many facets.
Books of his photographs include Uncommon Places: The Complete Works; Essex County; The Velvet Years: Warhol’s Factory, 1965 – 1967; American Surfaces; A Road Trip Journal; and A Retrospective Monograph on Phaidon Contemporary Artists series. Stephen also wrote The Nature of Photographs, published by Phaidon Press, which addresses how a photograph functions visually. His work is currently represented by 303 Gallery in New York City, where he lives and works as director of the photography Program at Bard Collage, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY as the Susan Weber Professor in the Arts.