Synopsis: Stephen Shore’s ‘Uncommon Places’

Before writing this synopsis and heading into the month long look at Shore’s book, I should point out that there are two books called ‘Uncommon Places’ by Shore, although to give the second it’s full title ‘Uncommon Places, The Complete Works’.
The original 1982 publication would set you back between £6-900 for a book in good nick and so there will be no book-bias here. Whichever copy you have, we would love to hear your thoughts.
– Myself, I will be looking at a copy of ‘Uncommon Places, The Complete Works’ and occasionally the original from my local library

Uncommon Places/Uncommon Places, The Complete Works

Stephen Shore

Aperture 1982/Aperture 2004

From the publisher:

Published by Aperture in 1982 and long unavailable, Stephen Shore’s legendary Uncommon Places has influenced a generation of photographers. Among the first artists to take color beyond advertising and fashion photography, Shore’s large-format color work on the American vernacular landscape stands at the root of what has become a vital photographic tradition. Uncommon Places: The Complete Works presents a definitive collection of the original series, much of it never before published or exhibited.

Like Robert Frank and Walker Evans before him, Shore discovered a hitherto unarticulated version of America via highway and camera. Approaching his subjects with cool objectivity, Shore’s images retain precise internal systems of gestures in composition and light through which the objects before his lens assume both an archetypal aura and an ambiguously personal importance. In contrast to Shore’s signature landscapes with which “Uncommon Places” is often associated, this expanded survey reveals equally remarkable collections of interiors and portraits.

As a new generation of artists expands on the projects of the New Topographic and New Color photographers of the seventies—Thomas Struth (whose first book was titled Unconscious Places), Andreas Gursky, and Catherine Opie among them—Uncommon Places: The Complete Works provides a timely opportunity to reexamine the diverse implications of Shore’s project and offers a fundamental primer for the last thirty years of large-format color photography.

At age twelve, Stephen Shore’s work was purchased by Edward Steichen for the Museum of Modern Art. At twenty-four, he became the first living photographer to have a one-man show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Other one-man show venues include the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf. He has received two National Endowment for the Arts Grants and a Guggenheim Foundation Grant, and has been the Chair of Bard College’s photography department in upstate N.Y. since 1982.


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