Stephen Shore: Uncommon Places

Stephen Shore

Uncommon Places: The Complete Works

  1. Essay by Stephan Schmidt-Wulffen
  2. Conversation with the artist by Lynne Tillman
  • ISBN 9780500544457
  • 26.20 x 32.70 cm
  • PLC (with jacket)
  • 208pp
  • 183 Illustrations, 183 in colour
  • First published 2014

An updated edition of this classic photography book

‘One of the seminal books on modern America’ – British Journal of Photography
‘The legacy of Stephen Shore’s 'Uncommon Places' cannot be overstated … this updated edition features 15 previously unseen images and includes discussions with the artist, offering readers insight into what it means to produce – and update – such an enduring legacy’The Year’s Best Books’, Amateur Photographer
‘Consistently amazing’– The Art Book
‘A new, definitive edition of the iconic work’–
‘Wonderfully evocative’ – Digital Camera

Stephen Shore Uncommon Places

Originally published in 1982, Stephen Shore’s legendary Uncommon Places has influenced more than a generation of photographers. Shore was among the first artists to take colour beyond the domain of advertising and fashion photography, and his large-format colour work on the American vernacular landscape stands at the root of what has become a vital photographic tradition over the past forty years.

Uncommon Places: The Complete Works presents a definitive collection of the landmark series, and in the span of a decade has become a contemporary classic. Now, for this lushly produced reissue, the artist has added twenty more images and a statement discussing the rediscovery of photographs never previously printed and what it means to expand a classic series.

Like Robert Frank and Walker Evans before him, Shore discovered a hitherto unarticulated vision of America via highway and camera. Approaching his subjects with cool objectivity, Shore retains precise internal systems of gestures in composition and light, through which a parking lot emptied of people, a hotel bedroom, or a building on a side street assumes both an archetypal aura and an ambiguously personal importance. In contrast to his signature landscapes with which Uncommon Places is often associated, this expanded survey reveals equally remarkable collections of interiors and portraits.

An essay by noted critic and curator Stephan Schmidt-Wulffen and a conversation with Shore by fiction writer Lynne Tillman examine his methodology as they elucidate his roots in the Pop and Conceptual art movements of the late 1960s and early 1970s. The texts are illustrated with reproductions from Shore’s earlier series ‘American Surfaces’ and ‘Amarillo: Tall in Texas’.

‘Stephen Shore captures the essence of the American landscape by framing particular, ordinary elements so that they reveal the universal and the extraordinary. The viewpoint of his camera is never special; it is that of our own absentminded eyes as we wander through familiar places doing ordinary things – waiting for a bus or driving on an errand. In Shore’s photographs we discover the mislaid images that we ignored because of their very familiarity or rejected because of their banality. Our conscious minds seek more interesting or less objectionable scenes – Alpine peaks or Italian piazzas; in Shore’s art we confront what we usually do not notice, streets and façades at once well-known and remote, half-remembered and half-forgotten. Shore’s is the art of the deadpan – rejecting exotic compositions, artful editing, or facile simplification. He accepts the threadbare banality of the American scene, the jerry-rigged, down-at-the-heels seediness of our rural landscapes and the spatial looseness of our towns, recapturing the overfamiliar, making it poignant, coherent, and almost lovable’
– Robert Venturi, Architect

‘His work is Nabokovian for me: exposing so much, and yet leaving so much room for your imagination to roam and do what it will’
– Tennessee Williams

At the age of fourteen, Stephen Shore (b. 1947, New York) had his work purchased by Edward Steichen for the Museum of Modern Art, New York. At seventeen, Shore was a regular at Andy Warhol’s Factory, producing an important photographic document of the scene, and in 1971, at the age of twenty-three, he became the first living photographer since Alfred Stieglitz forty years earlier to have a solo show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He has had numerous one-man shows, including those at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; George Eastman House, Rochester; Kunsthalle Düsseldorf; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Jeu de Paume, Paris; and Art Institute of Chicago. He has received two NEA grants and a Guggenheim Foundation grant. Since 1982 he has been director of the photography programme at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, where he is the Susan Weber Professor in the Arts.

While serving as the director of the Kunstverein in Hamburg between 1992 and 2000, Stephan Schmidt-Wulffen curated exhibitions by artists, including Franz West, Mike Kelley, Diana Thater, Jorge Pardo and Angela Bulloch. In addition to teaching at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Hamburg, he was rector of the Art Academy in Vienna from 2002 to 2011. Since 2012 he has taught curatorial management at Zeppelin University, Friedrichshafen, Germany.

Lynne Tillman is a writer and cultural critic whose novels include Haunted Houses and American Genius: A Comedy, and story collections include The Madame Realism Complex and This Is Not It. She has written for Nest, New York Times Book Review, Art in America, Artforum, frieze and Bookforum. Tillman is the fiction editor of Fence magazine and teaches in the Criticism and Writing MFA Program at the School of Visual Arts, New York.