Originally published by Aperture in 1982 and long unavailable, Stephen Shore's now legendary book Uncommon Places has influenced a generation of photographers. Shore was among the first artists to take color beyond the domain of advertising and fashion photography. Uncommon Places--his visionary series of images of the American vernacular landscape of the seventies and early eighties--stands at the root of what has become a vital photographic tradition over the past three decades.
Uncommon Places: The Complete Works presents an expanded, definitive collection of the early work of this major artist, much of which has never before been published or exhibited. In 1972 Shore set out with a friend for Amarillo, Texas and--like Robert Frank and Walker Evans before him--discovered a hitherto unarticulated vision of America via highway and camera.
Shore approaches his subjects with cool objectivity, the photographs seemingly devoid of drama or commentary. Yet each image has been distilled, retaining 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 Shore's signature landscape images, this new, expanded survey of the original series reveals equally substantial collections of interiors and portraits.
Shore's broad influence can be seen today in the work of countless contemporary photographers--Thomas Struth, Andreas Gursky and Catherine Opie among them. Uncommon Places: The Complete Works provides an opportunity to reexamine the diverse implications of Shore's groundbreaking project and offers a fundamental primer for the last thirty years of large-format color photography.
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Cheap and fast, Sep 10, 2023
I only can be happy about the service. The product came faster than expected and the price was low.
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Rad., Sep 7, 2023
I am not a photography buff. Saw the exhibit in L.A. at the Hammer museum. I read magazines like "Vice", which feature alot of photogs who seem to be influenced by this guy. I thought his stuff was awesome- very contemporary, like someone travelled back in time and shot 70s landscapes etc.
Also: it's a big book- so have ample shelf space ready if you don't want to keep it on your coffee table or on display.
20 of 38 people found the following review helpful:
A Tribute to the Mundane, Aug 9, 2023
This was a book I purchased on a whim, mainly because the photographer Alec Soth considers this book to be a main influence in his work. Stephen Shore's book depicts a somewhat hyper-reality in the places that people generally frequent.
His low-contrast images are highly resolved and visually complex and the audience cannot help but stop and consider all the details packed into every frame. We walk through these spaces every day, and take for granted the images that our eyes absorb.
It is at this point where I begin to dislike these images. Shore wants us to see through his eyes because he sees these spaces as extraordinary and beautiful whereas I see it as inane and depressing. I see these spaces as nothing more than the throng of civilization casting aside its regard for natural beauty. Glory is given to the street signs and the gas stations, to the sky-scrapers and the Volkswagens. I cannot look at these images and see beauty.
Whenever I drive down a highway I always imagine what it would look like without the buildings and roads and streetlights, and when I look at one of Shore's images I try to imagine what the landscapes would look like without us. For me, this is the only successful function I can encounter.
Carefully consider what your expectations of this book are before you buy it. I believe that if you are interested in the ordinary and overlooked spaces that Shore has skillfully captured, this book is definitely your cup of tea. However if you expect otherwise, you may end up coming to the same conclusion that I have.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful:
'...and now, the rest of the story'., Jun 14, 2023
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 color 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, 2023' could just as easily be an Estes painting. There are several corner photos in the book and they are just stunning.
Another reviewer 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.
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful:
Between Gorsky, Sternfeld & Eggleston, May 27, 2023
This is a book I've been waiting for. I saw some of Stephen Shore's work in a New York gallery last fall and was very impressed. I was sad not to see some of this work in the new Thames & Hudson book, but I am by no means heartbroken.
Shore has added quite a bit of weight to previously published Uncommon Places and the book is well suited to anyone interested in the development of his style.
The work demonstrates a very interesting vein in the "new republic" tradition running very excitingly through American photography now. It is a very democratic body of work. It lacks the now 'oh-so' tired irony that was a hallmark of much late nineties work both in the US and UK.
The photographs that are presented to us are -on face value -seemingly humdrum. A street corner with telegraph poles, a motel bathroom with water in the bath. But on closer inspection there is a haunting beauty to the images; an aching sadness of dislocation, but at the same time oddly uplifting.
These "any-town, anyplace" photographs are perhaps a celebration of our own lives in our own environments. The familiar denies the beauty of our surroundings. What Shore does so eloquently is show us how to look at our world again. There's no politics here, no judgement; this is a straightforward depiction of our homes, towns, cities and countryside that we don't see because our lives are too rushed and complicated to stop and for half an hour stand by Mr Shore's shoulder and take a peak at what he loves about his world. This is a beautifully contemplative set of pictures, the antithesis of the brash, ironic-political, scathing nature of New British Colour.
As with Sternfeld, Shore uses large format and (what I can only assume is) slow speed colour film to draw out a huge amount of detail from his low contrast images. As one looks closer and closer at each print, one cannot help being mesmerised. It almost seems like there's more detail here than in reality. If we were to analyse at this level of detail some of Mr Shore's subjects (if ever we stopped to see them) we'd probably get arrested, or maybe committed. But we get two opportunities with Uncommon Places; we get the chance to spend time absorbed by the huge detail of these scenes, and we get the enormous benefit of seeing the world as through Stephen Shore's eyes. And the world is a better place for it.