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Urban Corners: A Tribute to Stephen Shore

Inspired by the photography of Stephen Shore, one of the best interpreters of Pop Art movement and of the strict school of the New Topographics, I decided to dedicate a tribute to this great artist with a series of pictures taken in Como with my Kiev 4AM equipped with a Jupiter 12 (a 35mm lens).

After a tribute to Gabriele Basilico, an Italian photographer famous for his photos of factories and industrial architecture and also for his rigorous documentation of European urban landscapes, I now dedicate an article to Stephen Shore, an artist bound (in his first works) to the school of the Pop Art. But now, he is famous for having participated in the school of the New Topographers, collaborating in the exhibition “New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape” of 1975 with Robert Adams, Lewis Baltz, Joe Deal, Bernd and Hilla Becher .

Photo by sirio174

While the early works of Shore, collected in the book “American Surfaces,” are related to the world of Pop Art, the later works are related to the rigorous movement of the New Topographics, a group of artists characterized by a severe and sober style, dedicated to the study of the transformation of the urban landscape by the hands of the men.

Photo by sirio174

The movement of the New Topographics was born in the 70s and was consecrated in 1975 in an exhibition in New York. It is based on the documentation of the landscape altered by human hands, in contrast with photos of uncontaminated nature from the school of Ansel Adams. The human figure never appears as the main subject; its photographers record the territory without artifice, without altering the vision of reality and documenting places sometimes trivial (as gas stations, parking, crossroads).

Photo by sirio174

They made a rigorous documentation of the urban landscape, often without a center of interest in the photo. However, nothing is left to chance: the New Topographics photographers work with extreme precision, in a scientific way, but did not care for the commercial, sentimental or hedonistic messages. Stephen Shore, which belongs to this category, works with large format cameras, to obtain the maximum detail and to minimize the impact of the film grain. His masterpieces can be seen in the book “Uncommon Places”, published by Aperture, or on his website

Photo by sirio174

I’m unable to find in my city, Como, which is surrounded by mountains, the vast open spaces of the great American plains photographed by Shore. So I thought to made an homage to him looking to the representation of some urban corners, with the greatest possible simplicity. I took pictures of buildings corners, and angles formed by benches, cabinets and garages.

Often just a change of light in the time interval of a few tens of minutes, is sufficient to change the mood of the picture, changing from warm to cool and neutral tones:

The common theme of these images is the presence of an edge, like a street corner, in a series of photos taken in the pedestrian area of Como.

Photo by sirio174

For this series of photos I used a Kiev 4AM loaded with a roll of Lomography CN 400 and equipped with a 35mm/f2,8 lens (the Jupiter 12). This is a non retrofocus lens: it extends inside the camera body up to a few millimeters from the curtains, and it is characterized by an absence of distortion at the edges together with a high sharpness and uniformity, so it is an ideal lens for a scientific and aseptic documentations of urban and architectural details.

There is a consideration of Stephen Shore to think about, from which draw inspiration for new photographic ideas: "To see something spectacular and recognize it as a photographic possibility is not making a very big leap. But to see something ordinary, something you’d see every day, and recognize it as a photographic possibility – that is what I am interested in.”

Photo by sirio174

Shore did (and still does) extensive use of color in almost all his works: often he made contact printing of his large format negatives, achieving a sharpness and a color rendition really out of the ordinary.

He’s certainly an artist to discover and study.

written by sirio174 and translated by sirio174

1 comment

  1. lomodesbro


    this is an inspiring album

    about 1 year ago · report as spam

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The original version of this article is written in: Italiano.