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Saturday February 18, 2023
How America’s Most Cherished Photographer Learned to See
Stephen Shore had never seen much of the United States when, at the age of twenty-four, in 1972, he began taking a 35-mm. S.L.R.—and then a four-by-five view camera, and then an eight-by-ten one—on continent-spanning road trips. These were voyages of discovery, not only personal but collective, exposing a country unfamiliar to natives who encountered it every day. His series that became the books “Uncommon Places” (1982) and “American Surfaces” (1999) were, and are, the finest visual apprehensions of national realities since Robert Frank’s “The Americans,” in 1958. Sharply different in manner, cool where Frank, a newcomer to the land, had been harsh, and in luxuriant color rather than grainy black-and-white, they nevertheless thrummed with an equal sense of subjects taken by surprise.