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Entries in New York Diary 2018 (10)


New York Diary: Films watched at the cinema  

My second week in New York was filled with more film viewings at the cinema: 

  • Welcome to L.A. (Alan Rudolph, 1976, 35mm) at Metrograph
  • The Art of Vision (Stan Brakhage, 1965, 16mm) at Anthology
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 70mm unrestored) at Village East Cinema - this was terrific!
  • The  Tale (Jennifer Fox, 2018) on HBO 
  • Close Up (Abbas Kiarostami, 1990, 35mm) at IFC 
  • Klute (Alan J Pakula, 1971, 35m) at Metrograph 
  • Barry Lyndon (Stanley Kubrick, 1975, 35mm)  





New York Diary: The Jim Henson Exhibition at Museum of the Moving Image

The Jim Henson Exhibition at Museum of Moving Image is a permanent exhibition dedicated to him, his work and his influence on pop culture. This is a must see exhibition for all Jim Henson fans. 

The Jim Henson Exhibition features a broad range of objects from throughout his remarkable career. It reveals how Henson and his team of builders, performers, and writers brought to life the enduringly popular worlds of The Muppet Show, the Muppet movies, Sesame StreetFraggle RockThe Dark Crystal, and Labyrinth. It also includes material from Henson’s experimental film projects and his early work, presenting him as a restlessly creative performer, filmmaker, and technical innovator. 

Among the nearly 300 objects on view are 47 puppets—including Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Rowlf, The Swedish Chef, Statler, Waldorf, Big Bird, Elmo, Cantus Fraggle, a Skeksis, and other popular favorites—character sketches, storyboards, scripts, photographs, and costumes. Film and television clips and behind-the-scenes footage are presented on monitors and projections throughout. Interactive experiences allow visitors to try their hand at puppeteering on screen and designing a puppet character. 

Many of the objects featured in The Jim Henson Exhibition are drawn from a major donation by Jim Henson’s family to the Museum’s permanent collection. This donation of nearly 500 artifacts includes historic puppets, costumes, production design material, and licensed merchandise.    


I didn't take many photos from the exhibition, but I found this video, which gives you a tour of it and shows you what's on display.   

The Jim Henson Exhibition is organized into the following sections:

Threshold immerses visitors in a flood of images from Jim Henson’s diverse body of work as they enter the exhibition. On a set of monitors that forms a large, seamless canvas, brief clips featuring iconic puppet characters and moments from Henson’s lesser-known works signal that the exhibition will offer familiar favorites and surprising revelations. Another aspect of the entry experience is a “wall” of twelve puppets just past the wall of screens.

Introducing Jim Henson
is a short section that offers biographical background about Henson, and looks at his influences and development as a visual artist and performer. Highlights include:

  • Comics created by Henson as a young teenager
  • Kermit the Frog puppet and the microphone headband that Henson used when he puppeteered
  • 1940s television showing clips of comedian Ernie Kovacs and Kukla, Fran and Ollie

Early Works looks at Henson’s first productions for television and film in the 1950s and 60s, in which his unbridled imagination, wit, and capacity for creative innovation were established. Highlights include:

  • The “Perform a Puppet on Screen” interactive, which gives visitors an opportunity to watch themselves perform a puppet on a television monitor
  • Yorick puppet from Henson’s first television series, Sam and Friends (1955-1961)
  • Clips and puppets from Henson’s television commercials in the 1950s and 1960s
  • Design sketches, scripts, clips, and a puppet for Rowlf, the first Muppet “star”

considers the film, TV commercial, and other projects that Henson worked on in the mid- to late-1960s, a period when he considered himself more of an experimental filmmaker than a puppeteer. Highlights include:

  • Material related to Cyclia, an unrealized immersive nightclub, including film clips projected onto a faceted surface, suggesting the effect Henson intended for the club
  • Notes, storyboard, and clip from Time Piece (1965)
  • Annotated editing script for the documentary Youth 68 (1968) 

Sesame Street
explores Henson’s work on the groundbreaking educational series, including the development of new puppet characters, short live-action and animated films, and the explosion of related licensed merchandise. Highlights include:
  • The “Design an Anything Muppet Character” interactive experience, which begins with a short video featuring Henson puppet-builder Rollie Krewson demonstrating how she designs “Anything Muppet” characters for Sesame Street. Visitors select facial features and accessories for an “Anything Muppet” form, and can see what their character looks like on screen
  • Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Elmo, and Prairie Dawn puppets, along with specialized equipment used by puppeteers to perform these characters
  • Storyboard for “counting film” created by Henson for the first season of the series

The Muppets features material from The Muppet Show (1976-1981) and Muppet feature films. Highlights include:

  • Puppets created for two pilots for The Muppet Show on ABC in 1974 and 1975, including The Swedish Chef, Statler, Waldorf, and Zoot
  • Set design material for The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984)
  • Projection of all 120 episodes of The Muppet Show playing simultaneously
  • Miss Piggy puppet, with costume sketches and development art for her character

Immersive Worlds
explores the creative and technical innovations that Henson and his collaborators pioneered during production of the imaginary worlds of Fraggle Rock (1983- 1986), The Dark Crystal (1982), and Labyrinth (1986). Highlights include:

  • “Ritual Master” Skeksis puppet from The Dark Crystal
  • Costumes for Jareth and Sarah from Labyrinth
  • Uncle Travelling Matt, Cantus, and Gobo puppets from Fraggle Rock
  • Concept art and development notes for Fraggle Rock

Looking Ahead
is a small section that looks at the television and film projects Henson worked on between 1985 and his death in 1990, including the development of the first digital puppet character. Highlights include:
  • “Waldo” - a radio-controlled remote puppeteering device
  •  Henson’s shooting script for “The Heartless Giant,” an episode of The Storyteller

is a video installation at the end of The Jim Henson Exhibition. The installation comprises twelve monitors of various sizes showing images and clips of Henson’s characters and collaborators. 



New York Diary: Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960–1985 at Brooklyn Museum

Gloria Camiruaga (Chile 1941-2006 Chile). Popsicles 1982-84. Video, colour, sound: 6:00 min 

Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960–1985
 at Brooklyn Museum
is an important exhibition about contributions to contemporary art of Latin American and Latina women artists during a period of conceptual and aesthetic experimentation.

The exhibition features 123 artists from 15 countries, the complete list of artists can be found here, and focuses on their use of the female body for political and social critique and artistic expression.

The exhibition is on until 22 July 2018 and I strongly suggest you visit, and take your daughters, sisters, nieces to this. (Note: This exhibition contains mature content.)

The artists pioneer radical forms and explore a female sensibility with overt or, more often, covert links to feminist activism. Many works were realized under harsh political and social conditions, some due to U.S. interventions in Central and South America, that were complicated or compounded by the artists’ experiences as women.

The artworks on view range from painting and sculpture to photography, video, performance, and other new mediums.

Included are emblematic figures such as Lygia Pape, Ana Mendieta, and Marta Minujín, alongside lesser‐known names such as Cuban‐born abstract painter Zilia Sánchez; Colombian sculptor Feliza Bursztyn; Peruvian composer, choreographer, and activist Victoria Santa Cruz; and Argentine mixed‐media artist Margarita Paksa.

The Brooklyn presentation also includes Nuyorican portraits by photographer Sophie Rivera, as well as work from Chicana graphic arts pioneer Ester Hernández, Cuban filmmaker Sara Gómez, and Afro-Latina activist and artist Marta Moreno Vega. 


Watch these two videos about the exhibition. Note: The videos and exhibition contains mature content.





New York Diary: Maria Lassnig: New York Films 1970–1980 at MoMA PS1 

Kopf. c. 1976. USA. Directed by Maria Lassnig. Courtesy of the Maria Lassnig Foundation. © 2018 Maria Lassnig Foundation

I am not familiar with the artist Maria Lassnig, but when I read there's an exhibition featuring her experimental films, I decided to visit and learn about a new artist. The screenings were shown in a dedicated screening area in MoMPA PS1 with cinema seating. The exhibition ends on 18th June 2018.


MoMA PS1 presents the world premiere of a series of experimental films the artist Maria Lassnig made in New York City in the 1970s. This presentation focuses on a selection of newly discovered and restored films that examine ways of looking and seeing bound up in bodily sensation. Newly restored by the Maria Lassnig Foundation in close collaboration with the Austrian Film Museum, these films incorporate animation, sound, and poetic voiceovers that encourage entry into the artist’s internal world.

Maria Lassnig: New York Films 1970–1980 highlights both finished films and film fragments, all produced using 16mm, 8mm, and Super 8, comprised of live action footage, animated drawings, animated paper cut-outs, and documentary footage of the artist’s studio and her surroundings in New York. These newly surfaced films enrich and complicate our understandings of Lassnig's approach to figuration and self-portraiture, as well as other key themes that she investigated throughout her career, including the social roles assigned to women, the tension between public engagement and private seclusion, and questions of technological advancement, especially of imaging technologies and shifts in the way images circulate. 


Read this Observer interview with MoMA PS1 assistant curator Jocelyn Miller who worked hard over the past few years to bring us this exhibition. 




New York Diary: Zoe Leonard: Survey at the Whitney Museum of American Art

Zoe Leonard (b. 1961), detail of You see I am here after all, 2008. 3,851 vintage postcards, 11 × 10 1/2 × 147 ft. (3.35 × 3.2 × 44.8 m) overall. Installation view, Dia: Beacon, Beacon, New York, 2008. Collection of the artist; courtesy Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne. Photograph by Bill Jacobson, New York

Zoe Leonard: Survey at the Whitney Museum was an opportunity for me to see Leonard's work up close after only seeing her work online. It ranges from photography, found objects and sculptures, each asking the viewer to "reengage with how we see".  The exhibition was on from 2nd March - 10th June 2018. 

New York–based artist Zoe Leonard (b. 1961) is among the most critically acclaimed artists of her generation.  Over the past three decades, she has produced work in photography and sculpture that has been celebrated for its lyrical observations of daily life coupled with a rigorous, questioning attention to the politics and conditions of image making and display.           

Zoe Leonard: Survey is the first large-scale overview of the artist’s work in an American museum. The exhibition looks across Leonard’s career to highlight her engagement with a range of themes, including the history of photography, gender and sexuality, loss and mourning, migration, displacement, and the urban landscape.

More than it focuses on any particular subject, however, Leonard’s work slowly and reflectively calibrates vision and form. Using repetition, subtle changes of perspective, and shifts of scale, Leonard draws viewers into an awareness of the meanings behind otherwise familiar images or objects. A counter-example to the speed and disposability of image culture today, Leonard’s photographs, sculptures and installations ask the viewer to reengage with how we see.


Here are some of the works from the exhibition: 

Zoe Leonard (b. 1961)­, Untitled, 1989. Gelatin silver print, 9 3/4 x 7 in. (24.77 x 17.78 cm). Collection of the artist; courtesy Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne, and Hauser & Wirth, New York

Zoe Leonard (b. 1961), detail of The Fae Richards Photo Archive, 1993-96. Gelatin silver prints and chromogenic prints, dimensions variable. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from the Contemporary Painting and Sculpture Committee and the Photography Committee

nstallation view of Zoe Leonard (b. 1961), You see I am here after all, 2008. 3,851 vintage postcards, 11 × 10 1/2 × 147 ft. (3.35 × 3.2 × 44.8 m) overall. Dia: Beacon, Beacon, New York, 2008. Collection of the artist; courtesy Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne. Photograph by Bill Jacobson, New York

Zoe Leonard (b. 1961), TV Wheelbarrow, 2001. Dye transfer print, 20 × 16 in. (50.8 × 40.6 cm). Collection of the artist; courtesy Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne, and Hauser & Wirth, New York
Installation view of Zoe Leonard (b. 1961), Strange Fruit, 1992-97. Orange, banana, grapefruit, lemon, and avocado peels with thread, zippers, buttons, sinew, needles, plastic, wire, stickers, fabric, and trim wax, dimensions variable. Collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art; purchased with funds contributed by the Dietrich Foundation and with the partial gift of the artist and the Paula Cooper Gallery, 1998. Image courtesy the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Photograph by Graydon Wood
Zoe Leonard (b. 1961)­, detail of New York Harbor I, 2016. Two gelatin silver prints, 21 × 17 1/8 in. (53.3 × 43.5 cm) each. Collection of the artist; courtesy Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne, and Hauser & Wirth, New York
Zoe Leonard (b. 1961), detail of How to Make Good Pictures, 2016. 429 books, 25 1/4 × 6 1/8 × 248 3/4 in. (64.1 × 15.6 × 631.8 cm) overall. Collection of the artist; courtesy Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne. Photograph by Simon Vogel


More Zoe Leonard from these recent talks at the museum: 

On the occasion of Zoe Leonard: Survey, the artist speaks with writer Rebecca Solnit about their shared interests and commitments ranging from the history of photography and landscapes of the natural and built environment, to feminism and the current political climate. 


This conversation between Zoe Leonard and critic Elisabeth Lebovici explores their intersecting practices and mutual histories, reflecting on the exhibition Zoe Leonard: Survey and Lebovici’s recent book, Ce que le sida m’a fait (What AIDS has done to me).  



Over five years, Zoe Leonard sewed together skins of fruit. Leonard chose not to preserve the resulting work, Strange Fruit (1992–1997), intending for its decay to be on view. It has not been seen publicly since 2001. On the occasion of the work's appearance at the Whitney, a range of voices will reflect on Strange Fruit and its multiple historical inflections, its relevance and resonance today, and its very specific material existence. Speakers include Gregg Bordowitz, Jonah Groeneboer, Katie Hubbard, Fred Moten, Christian Scheidemann and Cameron Rowland.


New York Diary: Films watched at the cinema 


I am currently staying near three cinemas that are walking distance (Angelika, Metrograph, Anthology and IFC) and I've watched films everyday during my first week here, sometimes 3 films a day. I guess my sightseeing in New York is visiting the cinemas. How can I not? 

First Reformed (dir. Paul Schrader) is by far my favourite film seen this week and will no doubt be in my top 10, possibly top 5 by the end of the year. It's the only film I've been thinking about a lot this week, to an extent where I went to see it for the second time. 


Here's the list of films watched this week:

  • First Reformed (Paul Schrader, 2017) at Angelika
  • 20, 30, 40 (Sylvia Chang, 2004) at Metrograph
  • Revenge (Coralie Fargeat, 2017) at IFC
  • It's Great to be Alive (Alfred L. Werker, 1933, 35mm) at MoMA
  • 6 Hours to Live (William Dieterle, 1932, 35mm) at MoMA
  • The Day After (Hong Sang-soo, 2017) at Film Society 
  • The Birds (Alfred Hitchcock, 1963, restored) at Metrograph
  • The Man Who Fell to Earth (Nicolas Roeg, 1976, 35mm) at Anthology
  • Ganha & Hess (Bill Gunn, 1973, restored) at Metrograph
  • The Gospel According to Andre (Kate Novack, 2017) at Angelika
  • Disobedience (Sebastián Lelio, 2017) at Angelika
  • A Fistful of Dollars (Sergio Leone, 1964, restored) at Metrograph
  • First Reformed (Paul Schrader, 2017) at Angelika  




New York Diary: David Bowie Is at Brooklyn Museum 

Installation images of "David Bowie is" at the Brooklyn Museum. Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum/Jonthan Dorado

Installation images of "David Bowie is" at the Brooklyn Museum. Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum/Jonthan Dorado

Installation images of "David Bowie is" at the Brooklyn Museum. Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum/Jonthan DoradoInstallation images of "David Bowie is" at the Brooklyn Museum. Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum/Jonthan Dorado

David Bowie Is has been touring around the world for the past five years and it's final stop in New York at the Brooklyn Museum is the one I was finally able to attend. It's a very rich and dense exhibition with lots to see, read and listen to. The mandatory headphones makes it an immersive and rich experience because you get to hear his songs and hear his voice from recorded interviews. All automatically linked to whatever section of the exhibition you are in. The exhibition is on until 15th July 2018, if you are in or near New York, DO NOT MISS THIS. 


Organized with unprecedented access to David Bowie’s personal archive, this exhibition explores the creative process of an artist whose sustained reinventions, innovative collaborations, and bold characterizations revolutionized the way we see music, inspiring people to shape their own identities while challenging social traditions. David Bowie Is has been touring globally for the past five years and is taking its final bow at the Brooklyn Museum, providing an opportunity to view this one-of-a-kind material.

David Bowie Is presents approximately 400 objects drawn primarily from the David Bowie Archive, including the artist’s original costumes, handwritten lyric sheets from famous songs, original album art, photographs, and videos, all tracing Bowie’s creative process from his teenage years in England through his last twenty years, when he resided in New York City. The archive is presented within an immersive, multimedia installation that includes continuous audio along with projected animation and video.

Highlights of the exhibition include more than 60 custom-made performance costumes, including six designed by Freddie Burretti for Ziggy Stardust / 1980 Floor Show and seven designed by Kansai Yamamoto for Aladdin Sane. There are 85 handwritten lyric sheets, including those from “Fame” and “Fashion”; drawings, including a sketch for the Young Americans album cover; and oil paintings, including two of musician Iggy Pop, all by Bowie. There are also more than 40 pioneering music videos, television clips, and filmed roles as well as a multimedia presentation of international tour footage with rare scenes from the legendary Diamond Dogs tour, filmed in Philadelphia. A custom audio mix made up of snippets of Bowie’s songs—produced by longtime collaborator Tony Visconti—is also featured. 


There's no photography allowed, and the photos I've shared here do not do it any justice. Watch this short news report to give you an idea of what to expect and just make sure you go. 



Images via  




New York Diary: Multiply, Identify, Her at ICP

Multiply, Identify, Her at ICP features works by women artists - from cut-photograph collage to an exploration of life-extending arti cial intelligence. It "showcases work by an intergenerational group of women artists exploring the construction and implications of hybrid and multiple identities".  The exhibition is on until 2nd September 2018. 


Multiply, Identify, Her: This exhibition features an intergenerational group of women artists whose work explores the construction of hybrid and multiple identities. Working in photography, video, and lm, through assemblage, collage, multi-part portraiture, and the use of avatars both analogue and digital, these artists reckon with complex and mutable selves.

These selves—mirrored, repeated, trans gured, and cloned—emerge from intersecting confrontations: with their own image, with social histories that elide with intimate ones, with the weight of gendered archetypes, and with the ambivalent promises of technology.

Made between the late 1990s and today, the work on view has roots in key feminist art historical discussions and presents non- singular selves that, in their multiplicity, vulnerability, and radicality, challenge patriarchal modes of power. Featuring work ranging from cut-photograph collage to an exploration of life-extending arti cial intelligence, this exhibition considers transcending the singular, unified self as a psychological and political aspiration, as well as a future, technology-enabled reality.


Multiply, Identify, Her includes the following artists: 

  • Geta Brătescu
  • Stephanie Dinkins
  • Christina Fernandez
  • Barbara Hammer
  • Roni Horn
  • Wangechi Mutu
  • Gina Osterloh
  • Sondra Perry
  • Lorna Simpson
  • Mickalene Thomas   


Here are my favourite works from the exhibition:  

Geta Brătescu 

Geta Brătescu, Autoportret în oglindă [Self-Portrait in the Mirror], 2001. © Geta Brătescu, Courtesy the artist; Ivan Gallery, Bucharest; Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Ștefan Sava.

Christina Fernandez 

Christina Fernandez, Untitled Multiple Exposure #7 (Bravo), 1999. © Christina Fernandez, Courtesy of the artist and Gallery Luisotti.



Gina Osterloh 

Gina Osterloh, Press and Outline, 2014. 16mm film, silent, 5:30 min. © Gina Osterloh, Courtesy the artist, Ghebaly Gallery, Los Angeles; Higher Pictures, New York; and Silverlens, Manila.


Lorna Simpson  

Lorna Simpson, Blue Wave, 2011. Collage and ink on paper, 11 x 8 1/2 in. (28 x 21.6 cm). The Studio Museum in Harlem; gift of the artist on the occasion of the Romare Bearden (1911–1988) Centennial and the Bearden Project. © Lorna Simpson, courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth.


Mickalene Thomas     

Mickalene Thomas, Angelitos Negros (detail), 2016. Eight-channel video, sound, 23:18 min. © Mickalene Thomas, Courtesy the artist and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.





New York Diary: Being-New Photography 2018 at MoMA

Hiding our faces like a dancing wind. 2016 (still). Video (color, no sound), 7 min., 30 sec © 2017 Yazan Khalili, courtesy the artist and Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai

Being: New Photography 2018 at MoMA asks "how photography can capture what it means to be human". It includes over 80 new and recent works by 17 artists from 10 countries. The exhibition is on until 19th August 2918. 

At a time when questions about the rights, responsibilities, and dangers inherent in being represented—and in representing others—are being debated around the world, the works featured in Being call attention to assumptions about how individuals are depicted and perceived.

Many challenge the conventions of photographic portraiture, or use tactics such as masking, cropping, or fragmenting to disorient the viewer. In others, snapshots or found images are taken from their original context and placed in a new one to reveal hidden stories.

While some of the works might be considered straightforward representations of individuals, others do not include images of the human body at all. Together, they explore how personhood is expressed today, and offer timely perspectives on issues of privacy and exposure; the formation of communities; and gender, heritage, and psychology.

The artists in Being: New Photography 2018 include:

Sofia Borges (Brazilian, born 1984)
Matthew Connors (American, born 1976)
Sam Contis (American, born 1982)
Shilpa Gupta (Indian, born 1976)
Adelita Husni-Bey (Italian, born 1985)
Yazan Khalili (Palestinian, born Syria, 1981)
Harold Mendez (American, born 1977)
Aïda Muluneh (Ethiopian, born 1974)
Hương Ngô and Hồng-Ân Trương (American, born Hong Kong, 1979; American, born 1976)
B. Ingrid Olson (American, born 1987)
Joanna Piotrowska (Polish, born 1985)
Em Rooney (American, born 1983)
Paul Mpagi Sepuya (American, born 1982)
Andrzej Steinbach (German, born Poland, 1983)
Stephanie Syjuco (American, born Philippines, 1974)
Carmen Winant (American, born 1983) 



New York Diary: Stephen Shore at MoMA


I managed to catch the last day of the Stephen Shore exhibition at MoMA. Described as "the most comprehensive exhibition ever organized of photographer Stephen Shore’s work", I was glad I had an opportunity to see his work exhibited chronologically from when he first started until his current works. 

The exhibition tracks the artist’s work chronologically, from the gelatin silver prints he made as a teenager to his current work with digital platforms. Stephen Shore establishes the artist’s full oeuvre in the context of his time—from his days at Andy Warhol’s Factory through the rise of American color photography and the transition to large-scale digital photography—and argues for his singular vision and uncompromising pursuit of photography’s possibilities. The exhibition will include hundreds of photographic works along with additional materials including books, ephemera, and objects.

Born in 1947, Shore spearheaded the New Color Photography movement in the United States in the 1970s, and became a major catalyst in the renewal of documentary photography in the late 1990s, both in the US and Europe, blending the tradition of American photographers such as Walker Evans with influences from various artistic movements, including Pop, Conceptualism, and even Photo-Realism.

Shore’s images seem to achieve perfect neutrality, in both subject matter and approach. His approach cannot be reduced to a style but is best summed up with a few principles from which he has seldom deviated: the search for maximum clarity, the absence of retouching and reframing, and respect for natural light. Above all, he exercises discipline, limiting his shots as much as possible—one shot of a subject, and very little editing afterward. 





The exhibition includes the following sections and I've included the wall text for each section and a few of the works from the exhibition.

The Early Years 

Stephen Shore (American, born 1947). Untitled. 1964. Gelatin silver print, 9 1/2 × 6 1/2" (24.1 × 16.5 cm). Courtesy the artist and 303 Gallery, New York

Stephen Shore (American, born 1947). _1:35 a.m., in Chinatown Restaurant, New York, New York.z- 1965–67. Gelatin silver print, printed c. 1995, 9 × 13 1/2" (22.9 × 34.3 cm). Courtesy the artist and 303 Gallery, New York

Shore started developing negatives of pictures his parents had taken when he was only six. He got his first camera at the age of nine and sold three prints to The Museum of Modern Art at fourteen. His first feature article was published in the popular magazine U.S. Camera in 1963, when he was only fifteen. Titled “Angry Young Man with a Camera,” it reveals a New York street photographer, mainly interested in portraiture and aspiring to create a book about Forty-Second Street. Influenced by the work of Robert Frank and Dave Heath, Shore’s images were generally taken in black and white with a small camera and demonstrate a photographic vocabulary that is stunningly assertive for an adolescent— fragmented and a little raw, underlining the staccato rhythm of the street, syncopated and almost jazzy.

In the early 1960s Shore became interested in film, both narrative and experimental. He would skip school to take in features at independent theaters including the Film-Makers’ Cinematheque, where he showed his short film Elevator and met Andy Warhol. From spring 1965, when Shore dropped out of high school, until 1967, he photographed at Warhol’s studio, the Factory, first on an almost daily basis and then more sporadically. Some 170 of his images were included in the catalogue of the 1968 Warhol exhibition at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm. Spending time with Warhol proved to be fundamental for Shore, sensitizing the very young photographer, who had no theoretical grounding, to different methods of working and new ways of looking at the world.  


The Nature of Photographs

In 1982 Shore started directing the photography program at Bard College, one hundred miles north of New York City. He deliberately oriented the program toward straight photography at a time when most teachers were emphasizing manipulated and constructed photography. Since then, teaching has been at the core of his activity as a photographer. 

It was also, notably, the basis of The Nature of Photographs, the book he published in 1998. “The aim of this book, then, is not to explore photographic content,” he explained, “but to describe the physical and formal attributes of a photographic print that form the tools a photographer uses to define and interpret that content.” In choosing to include some of his own pictures alongside those by others, Shore presented a very personal history of photography; reading between the lines, one can discover his trajectory as a photographer, his influences and affinities. Some of the images reproduced in the book are presented here, along with Shore’s texts (recorded as audio).  

All the Meat You Can Eat 

Installation view of All the Meat You Can Eat, 98 Greene Street Loft, New York, November 8–20, 1971

Stephen Shore (American, born 1947). American National Bank Building, 7th & Tyler. 1971. Offset lithograph, 3 1/2 x 5 1/2" (8.9 x 14 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the artist. 2013

The exhibition All the Meat You Can Eat took place in November 1971, at the 98 Greene Street Loft, a non-commercial alternative space in SoHo. The show embraced a century of photography and was composed largely of found images collected by Shore and two friends: Weston Naef, then a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Michael Marsh. It also included images by Shore, such as shots taken with a Mick-a-Matic camera (a popular Mickey Mouse shaped children’s camera) and color photos that would serve as the basis for the postcards in his Greetings from Amarillo, “Tall in Texas” series. 

The presentation was deliberately dissonant; genres mixed and clashed with no apparent logic, showing the diversity, the richness, and, sometimes, the kitsch of vernacular photographic forms. As the photography critic Gene Thornton noted in the only published review of the exhibition, these images were selected not for their aesthetic appeal but for their contribution to the all-and- sundry nature of this production, a collection of pictures of a type rarely seen on the walls of galleries or museums. He wrote, “Stephen Shore’s fascinating selection is a healthy, if possibly somewhat unwelcome, reminder of the part that photography really plays in the world.” All the Meat You Can Eat was a declaration of love to all manner of photography and a true atlas of forms for Shore’s future work. The groupings and installation of images in this gallery are based on the original 1971 presentation. 


American Surfaces 

Stephen Shore (American, born 1947). Amarillo, Texas, July 1972. 1972. Chromogenic color print, printed 2017, 3 1/16 × 4 5/8" (7.8 × 11.7 cm). Courtesy the artist and 303 Gallery, New York

In the early 1970s, Shore, eager to create images that would be more in tune with his time, decided to turn to color photography, a technique that was then still largely overlooked by art photographers. In March 1972, using a Rollei 35mm camera equipped with a flash mounted beneath it, he started taking snapshots of his daily life. In June of the same year he embarked on a road trip to the southern United States, and for two months he cataloged his everyday existence: unremarkable buildings, main streets, highway intersections, hotel rooms, television screens, people’s faces, toilet seats, unmade beds, a variety of ornamental details, plates of food, shop windows, inscriptions, and commercial signs. 

In September and October 1972, approximately 190 images from the series were shown at Light Gallery in New York under the title American Surfaces. The display here echoes that initial presentation, where the small Kodacolor prints were hung unframed, attached directly to the wall in a grid of three rows. Shore continued the series for more than a year and a half; it came to include a number of images made in New York and, over the course of subsequent travels, other places in the United States as well as in London and the Virgin Islands. American Surfaces exists at the juncture of several of Shore’s preoccupations and influences at the time: a taste for repetitive patterns, a strong interest in amateur photography, and a fascination with the aesthetics of pop culture and the vernacular.  


Commissions and Editorial Work 

nstallation view of Signs of Life: Symbols in the American City, organized by Robert Venturi, Steven Izenour, and Denise Scott Brown, Renwick Gallery, Washington, D.C., February 26– October 31, 1976. Photo: Stephen Shore

While working on his series Uncommon Places, Shore began to accept photographic commissions, both for editorial work and for institutions and companies. He found these commissions a welcome and beneficial exercise. Shore has often said that by requiring him to focus on a specific theme and capture a place or subject in a few images, some of the commissioned work served as an antidote to his innate formalism. 

If commissions like the one on Claude Monet’s garden in Giverny seem quite distant from Uncommon Places, many others show an affinity with that series in their attention to both architecture and a certain “Americanness.” Courthouses documented courthouses in small towns across the country, while the work Shore did for the 1976 exhibition Signs of Life: Symbols in the American City, organized by architects Robert Venturi, Steven Izenour, and Denise Scott Brown, focused on contemporary vernacular architecture. And Shore featured one of the images of the Yankees that he took for an AT&T commission in his Uncommon Places book.

Some commissions for magazines, including those for Fortune and Geo, alternated between urban landscapes, portraits, and architectural details, following in a direct line from Uncommon Places. Meanwhile, the invitation in 1981 to document (along with several other photographers) the filming of John Huston’s Annie in Burbank, California, led to a series of images whose common element is the architectural decor itself. Shore would include a number of commissioned photographs in his personal body of work, suggesting that the borders between the two groups of images were very porous.   


Instant Photography 
2003 to Today 

Stephen Shore (American, born 1947). Merced River: Yosemite National Park, California 8/13/79. 2003. Book, printed 2017, 8 5/8 × 11" (21.9 × 27.9 cm). Courtesy the artist and 303 Gallery, New York

Shore’s interest in democratic and popular ways of producing and disseminating photographic images has manifested in various ways throughout his career, from his use of amateur cameras like the Mick-a-Matic and the Rollei 35 in the early 1970s to his enthusiasm for new digital technologies in the 2000s. 

He embraced print-on-demand bookmaking in 2003, when the technique was new, producing eighty-three small books over the course of seven years. All were printed in limited editions of twenty copies, making them similar to artists’ books. With rare exceptions, all are time capsules, made in a single day or less. The ease of production, speed of execution, democratic nature of the technique used, and modesty of the finished product seem in direct line with the snapshots of American Surfaces. 

Since 2014, the bulk of Shore’s personal photographic production has been through Instagram. With the social networking app, Shore has reestablished a rapid, instantaneous practice, one that requires him to be on constant alert. “Paying attention all the time is a very interesting way to go through a day,” he has said.   



In the 1990s, Shore became fascinated by archaeology, reading extensively on the subject in journals and books and undertaking various photographic projects around excavation sites. The first of these took place in Israel in 1996, in Hatzor, a town north of the Sea of Galilee between Ramah and Qadesh, and Ashkelon, an ancient port about thirty-five miles south of Tel Aviv. In the excavation sites of these vanished cities, Shore was especially interested in the human dimension, domestic and secular, seen in bones, pottery, and vestiges of dwellings and shops.

Beyond this series, one could say that many of Shore’s images have an archaeological aspect. Although they are often devoid of human presence, they capture traces of everyday life and focus on humanity—our habits, movements, and meals; the places where we live, work, and play. Together his photographs serve as a kind of archaeological survey, whether of historic societies or of the contemporary world in the making.   


Serial Images

After essentially taking a break from photography in 1968, while he worked with his father in investment banking, Shore returned to his practice in 1969 with serial black-and- white projects, which gave his work a more detached and intellectual foundation. Shore produced many of these photographs in Amarillo, Texas, in the summer of that year, with his friend Michael Marsh as his main model. They show Shore striving to free himself from certain photographic conventions: the concept of photography as the art of creating isolated and “significant” images, perfect framing, and the expressive subjectivity of the photographer.

The principle of multiplicity prevails in Shore’s work of this period—series, suites, and sequences that resist all narrative temptation. Executed according to rules that Shore established for himself ahead of time, these works systematically investigate the two main parameters of the photographic process: time and space. Shore did not exhibit with Conceptual artists in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but when several of his serial black-and-white images were included in his solo exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1971, a few reviews explicitly identified similarities between his work and Conceptual art.    


Uncommon Places

Stephen Shore (American, born 1947). Holden Street, North Adams, Massachusetts, July 13, 1974. 1974. Chromogenic color print, printed 2013, 16 7/8 x 21 1/4" (42.8 x 54 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Purchase, 2013

Begun in 1973, during a period of accelerated change in the national landscape, especially in areas of suburban sprawl, and completed almost ten years later, Uncommon Places deals with the same themes as Shore’s previous series, American Surfaces. This continuity, however, is counterbalanced by a major technical change. With Uncommon Places Shore made the transition from a small handheld 35mm camera to a large view camera, first a 4-by-5 in 1973, and then, starting in 1974, an 8-by-10. As Shore has explained, this change was the result of his desire to make larger prints: he had found it impossible to enlarge some of his images from American Surfaces without a massive loss of quality due to the small size of 35mm negatives.

Compared to American Surfaces, Uncommon Places features fewer details and close-ups, a more detached approach, and an abandonment of the flash. All of the photographs are taken in the daytime, using only natural light, a practice from which Shore would rarely depart in his later work. Beyond these technical features, the quick, diaristic, almost narrative quality of American Surfaces yields to a slower, more removed quality in Uncommon Places, calling for a more contemplative reading of the individual images.

Before being published as a book in 1982, the series was widely exhibited both inside and outside the United States, making Shore one of the most prominent figures of the American New Color Photography movement and linking his work to a generation of photographers focused on the banal, human-made American landscape.    


In the Wilderness

Stephen Shore (American, born 1947). Gallatin County, Montana, August 2, 1983. 1983. Chromogenic color print, printed 2017, 36 × 45" (91.4 × 114.3 cm). Courtesy the artist and 303 Gallery, New York

Starting in the late 1970s, Shore gradually abandoned urban and suburban areas and turned to the natural landscape, a subject he would concentrate on almost exclusively during the next decade. There were American landscapes: those of Montana (1981–83), where he settled with his wife in 1980; Texas (1983–88); and the Hudson Valley (1984–87), where he moved in 1982. And there were those further afield: the highlands of Scotland (1988); the Yucatán, in Mexico (1990); and Luzzara, in Italy (1993).

Far from expressing a simple search for local charm, these pictures correspond closely to his definition of the photographic shot as a “problem to solve” rather than an image to “compose.” Without all the components that allowed him to construct a scene in the urban landscapes of the 1970s—especially the vertical elements, from street lamps to telegraph poles—how does one structure an image with perspective to create scale and depth? To make the exercise even more challenging, Shore chose what he described as “open, almost uninflected scenes in which to experiment with space.” They are landscapes guided not by a quest for the picturesque but by an experimental spirit.  


Historical Times: Israel and the West Bank and Ukraine

Stephen Shore (American, born 1947). Jerusalem, September 12, 2009. 2009. Chromogenic color print, printed 2017, 16 × 20" (40.6 × 50.8 cm). Courtesy the artist and 303 Gallery, New York

Shore’s two recent long-term photographic projects were made outside the United States, the first in Israel and the West Bank and the second in Ukraine. In different ways, they both add two new dimensions to his work: a reflection on history and, less directly, an exploration of his Jewish heritage (his paternal grandfather emigrated from Ukraine to the United States at the end of the nineteenth century).

In 2009 Shore was invited to Israel to work on a documentary project titled This Place, which was intended to show, through the lenses of twelve foreign photographers, the region in all its diversity and contradictions. Between September 2009 and March 2011, Shore went to Israel and the West Bank five times, photographing throughout the entire territory. Consisting of color images of landscapes, people, and places, Shore’s project mixes various temporalities, bringing together the short term of humans and their activities and the long term of the earth and landscapes.

The photographs Shore took in Ukraine in the summer of 2012 and the fall of 2013 take as their subject the country’s Jewish community, specifically Holocaust survivors who are assisted today by the Survivor Mitzvah Project, an organization based in Los Angeles. In a break from his norm, Shore structured the Ukraine series around the human figure, depicting a world on the brink of disappearing, as if frozen in time since World War II.  




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