new-york

Stephen Shore

P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center

In 1972, aged twenty-four, Stephen Shore got into his car with a 35 mm Rollei camera and began a nearly two-year drive around the country taking pictures of an American culture at an impasse between abundance and ugliness. Back in New York, he had the film processed by a Kodak camera shop and showed the resulting color shots taped to the wall. They were apparently not much appreciated. Reprinted as slightly more precious five-by-seven-and-one-half-inch C-prints, uniformly matted and framed in white, 243 of these images were shown recently at P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center. Collectively titled “American Surfaces,” they ratified Shore’s growing reputation as a pivotal figure in twentieth-century documentary photography.

It’s easy to see how Shore’s fragmentary, deadpan road-movie stills—with their modest scale, encyclopedic scope, skewed angles, and abject subjects—would have looked weird in

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