There’s incredible intrigue when two of the best in their respective fields come together. In this case, cult director Wes Anderson, known for his delightful story-telling and majestic visual style, and American photographer Stephen Shore, whose infamous 1982 book, Uncommon Places, undoubtedly influenced a whole generation of photographers through its use of colour and its documentation of the vast American landscape.
Three decades later, an unseen amount of work from Shore’s archives of that period has been curated by Anderson and 14 others, including Hans Ulrich Obrist, David Company, and Quentin Bajac, into the newly published Stephen Shore: Selected Works, 1973–1981.
Each curator owns their own chapter, creating a fantastic amalgamation of unique viewpoints and perspectives. “A successfully completed jigsaw puzzle looks its very best nailed to this dry-wall siding,” Anderson notes in his wonderfully distinguishable tone on “Cabin #8, Beach Motel, Ashland, Wisconsin July 9, 1973”.
In a time when advertising and fashion photography were the only realms in which to experiment with colour photography, the legendary Shore cut his teeth at New York’s famed Factory before going on to document his travels across the country. Much like Jack Kerouac typed the American road on one continuous roll of paper, Shore worked his way through hundreds of rolls of film as he travelled, influenced by the obsessional work ethic of his mentor, Warhol.
However, Shore saw himself akin to Kerouac’s minor characters, rather than autobiographically-inspired protagonist Sal Paradise. “There’s a young painter who picks Jack (Sal) up outside Cheyenne and takes him to Denver. That's really who I was emulating, albeit with a camera instead of a paintbrush,” he told the Guardian.
Shore captured the everyday and drew attention to its peculiarity. “To see something spectacular and recognise it as a photographic possibility is not making a very big leap,” he said previously. “But to see something ordinary, something you’d see every day, and recognise it as a photographic possibility – that’s what I’m interested in.”
Stephen Shore: Selected Works, 1973–1981 is available via the Aperture Foundation
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