in Interviews | 14 NOV 05
Featured in
Issue 95

Stephen Shore

Stephen Shore is Director of the Photography Programme at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. Stephen Shore: American Surfaces, in conjunction with an exhibition of the same name currently on view at PS1 Contemporary Art Center, New York, is published by Phaidon Press. He lives in New York.

in Interviews | 14 NOV 05

What images keep you company in the space where you work?

A work on paper by Jim Shaw, a painting by Amy Sillman, and a 17th century Persian watercolour of Dervishes having a communal meal.

What was the first piece of art that really mattered to you?

In 1968, I was in a loft in SoHo and Kaspar König said ‘I’ve got something to show you’ – Ed Ruscha’s book Every Building on the Sunset Strip (1966). While I had seen a lot of art and had spent three years on and off at Warhol’s Factory, Ruscha’s book really opened my eyes. A year or so later, looking at Michelangelo’s sculptures of prisoners at the Accademia in Florence, I had an intense experience of the works altering my state of mind and my perception. In the years to come, I had similar intense experiences at the Pantheon in Rome and Ibn Tulun Mosque in Cairo.

What film has most influenced you?

The Magnificent Ambersons (1942). When I first saw this movie, I was struck by how the visual content and the film’s structure and the plot were all of a unified piece: that the architecture of the Amberson mansion, how it was photographed, and how the film was edited all carried meaning and fed into each other. Then of course there’s The Big Lebowski (1998). To my mind, it is the movie for its time and place.

What do you like the look of?

My wife, Ginger.

If you could live with only one piece of art what would it be?

J.M.W. Turner’s Snow Storm (1842), in Tate Britain.

What could you imagine doing if you didn’t do what you do?


What music are you listening to?

For the past year or so, I’ve been revisiting performances by the violinist Jascha Heifetz. The clarity of his conscious intentionality is riveting.

What are you reading?

The House of Mirth (1905) by Edith Wharton

What was your most memorable journey?

The first cross-country trip I made after I got my driver’s license in 1972. I drove as far west as Utah, dropped down into Arizona and then followed Route 66 all the way from Flagstaff to Chicago.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’ve been making small, limited edition, digitally produced books using ‘print on demand’ technology. This work is heading in many different directions.