On page six of this large book, Stephen Shore writes, in the Artist's Note, 'The book you are holding in your hands amounts to what might be called the photographic equivalent of a director's cut.', and in the nature of such things you now get an additional ninety-four photos with the forty-nine that were in the original 1982 Aperture edition of the book, though this is not strictly true because some that were in the original are not in this edition.
I bought the original book because I loved the way Shore captured the everyday urban American outdoors and of course the amazing colour and detail. This new edition is even better because the photos are now larger, mostly 10.5 by 8.25 inches. The other thing I love about some of these photos is the way Shore captures the street corner, this seems to be a favorite composition (stretching back to the famous FSA photos of the Thirties) with contemporary photographers and Photorealists painters like Richard Estes or Davis Cone. Shore's 'El Paso Street, Texas, July 5, 1975' could just as easily be an Estes painting. There are several corner photos in the book and they are just stunning.
Another reviewer (on US Amazon) has commented on the amount of detail in these photos, helped of course by the two hundred plus dot screen, the original book used a 175 dpi. Apart from the screen it is interesting to compare images that appear in both books and the color does vary. 'Beverly Boulevard, June 21 1975' in the original (page 39) is predominately brown for the street area, in this edition (page 115) it has changed to a predominately blue cast. I wonder if this is the sort of thing that concerns collectors of first edition photo books?
In addition to the photos in this beautifully designed and printed book there are two text pieces, the first one, by Stephen Schmidt-Wulffen, includes twelve photos from Shore's 'American Surfaces'. The back of the book includes biographical notes and a useful bibliography.
This latest 'Uncommon Places' will be a book I'll look through for some years to come.
on 4 July 2009
If you are both a fan of large format colour photography and a disciple of the New Topographics movement of the 1970s, then this book is a must. Shore takes you on a journey across the USA and Canada, giving you a visual diary of the places and the people he encountered. It is not a travelogue, but a vital and beautiful chronicle of the life and times of 1970s USA. The way Shore can turn an ordinary scene into a multi-layered statement on the world around us is amazing. Oh, and by the way, the image and printing quality is second to none. Just marvel at the detail and the hidden secrets in the images.
on 28 April 2014
This is a beautifully presented, produced and well rounded book that presents an aspect of Stephen Shore's work very well. The relatively large and landscape format does great justice to the large format images and the colour has a very negative film feel to it as opposed to a colour reversal, contrasty transparency one.
Some would argue the images seem hum-drum and ordinary looking, they may even say theres a bit of "I could do that" about them. I would say those folk are not looking at, merely seeing the pictures.
Anyone with a nostalgic nemory of what the US was like in the 1970's and 80's will really like this I believe.
It is a period piece this heavy book, and I like it tremendously.
Well worth the purchase and at a terrific price with excellent despatch - so great value
on 23 December 2011
Facinating and stylish, as its title suggests, this book takes you on a trip round the America you see every day, yet never bother to really notice. Shore a master of colour photography. The subjects may be everyday, but the quality and composition are anything but. My personal favorite is the Standard Gas station in LA. An everyday scene, but somehow, a work or art, like pretty much the rest of the book.
Stephen Shore is a photographer who has intrigued, illuminated and baffled in equal measure since he first emerged as a serious photographer in the seventies. His USP at the time was the revolutionary use of colour (yes, really) but, in the aftermath of this profound shock his work can be viewed from the viewpoint of the more sophisticated viewer. Colour art photography no longer is an issue of concern or debate, it is here and we accept it.
What I think, in the final analysis, is the lasting influence of Shore's work is that he used a medium format camera in a documentary style, grabbing snapshot quality photographs that, due to the nature of the camera used, would have taken an age to set-up.
The detail, dynamic range and colour pallette of these large format images is just stunning, what is of huge importance is what he chose to turn the lens to with these precious exposures. So, we have street corners, diner interiors, left overs from a greasy meal and hotel interiors, the type of thing we often take ourselves with a digital camera.
These images are definitely of a time and a place but they do not suffer for this. They are both a documentary record of a rapidly disappearing America that was on the cusp of being homogenized by big corporations and an emotional insight into a world that was.
Given that people the world over know (or think they know) America in minute cultural detail, these photographs make you nostalgic for a place you never visited. I think if Shore worked in a less culturally relevant country these images would lose much of their impact.
In another book concerning Shore (see my review: http://www.amazon.co.uk/review/R17SHXWCXD030U/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm )
Shore discusses with an interviewer how great works of art are not immmediately decipherable and need intense and repeated viewings to 'activate.' This is a great description for many of Shore's works, they gain power and impact when studied closely.