Friday, March 16, 2018

Stephen Shore at MoMA

Stephen Shore at MoMA is the artist’s first museum survey exhibition in New York and covers his career of more than five decades. His prolificacy is made clear by the density with which his photographs are packed into the galleries. Despite the exhaustive inclusion of his many different bodies of work, Shore’s aesthetic is clear and consistent. Modest homes, street corners of sleepy towns on overcast days, unglamorous food and friends and strangers caught off guard, captured unapologetically. Shore’s photographs feel urgent, as if he paused for just a moment by accident, that their objective might simply be documenting moments of remarkable stillness. 

His landscapes from 1979-1993 felt like the strongest and most moving work in the show. They are pastoral and romantic. There’s an ease and a suddenness with which Shore decides to capture a figure or a building, such as a 1974 photo of Robert and Lucille Wehrly - his sensibility appears to more rapidly determine what and how the photo is. In relation to these selections of urbanity and humanity, the landscapes seem more careful. In his 1979 photo of Merced River at Yosemite there is the sense that Shore had to wait for this image to come together before he could take the photo. The figures had to align, the ripples in the water had to be just so. There is something illuminating in perhaps having to wait till the last possible second, right before all the details fall apart and the image is lost. Shore's ability to recognize this last interval before the image is broken is what ultimately unifies his long career.


  1. I entirely agree with your review, especially " Modest homes, street corners of sleepy towns on overcast days, unglamorous food and friends... " part. I felt he wanted to express our daily life and how our life is going. His works do not have vivid colors or specific particular moment, but I thought he tell us that all moments in our life are special too. Even if he contains simple moments, his works are detailed and so meaningful. One thing I also impressed was the separated sections between black and white works and color pictures. Black and white photos and color photos have different mood and emotions, so by dividing two different styles, I could feel the mood of two photo styles separately.

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  3. Your first sentence has an extra 'the' that needs to be deleted.
    Stephen Shore's career is expansive and I think you do a good job of highlighting what elements of his oeuvre have persisted. His dreary landscape photos are some of my favorite, too. I'm glad you mention the density of the exhibition because I thought the computers and hanging books distracted from the work. Your last point about Shore's photo Merced River at Yosemite is not the most clear. I love how you describe the image, but I think you can clarify how the work differs or compares to Shore's other work.