Stephen Shore Selected Works

Bringing together a selection of ‘curated’ out-takes from his celebrated series Uncommon Places, the 2017 publication of Stephen Shore’s Selected Works 1973 – 1981 was another high-point in a bumper year for the artist, just in advance of a career-spanning retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, complete with its own substantial catalogue.[i] Indeed, the question this book might well provoke is whether or not it was even necessary, given the amount of exposure Shore has received to date, and the plaudits he has already garnered, in the course of a long and profoundly influential working-life. We hardly need still more proof of how a handful of largely old, largely white men – along with a very few women – dominate the institutional narratives around photography, and so, the ways in which its history is understood. In light of that, and also of the fact that Shore’s Uncommon Places has already occasioned at least two books and been included in an untold number of compilations, what might there be left to say about the work? Of course, there is no doubt now about its status; Shore’s influence can be felt everywhere in contemporary photography, if only expressed as a preference for certain subjects and photographic methodologies. In fact, the series has become a kind of ‘Rosetta Stone,’ making comprehensible so much of what followed in its wake. There is also, inevitably, if perhaps unfairly, a suspicion of barrel-scraping about such collections drawing on otherwise familiar work.