Sunday, 28 February 2016

Stephen Shore / Ulrich Wüst - C│O Berlin (Postcard from Berlin 2016 (5))

Stephen Shore: Retrospektive is at C│O Berlin, until 22 May 2016.
Ulrich Wüst: Stadtbilder/Spätsommer/Randlagen (Cityscapes/Late Summer/Peripheries) is at C│O Berlin, until 24 April 2016
This was a treat – a substantial survey of Shore’s work from his early days hanging around Warhol’s Factory up to his current projects. Shore is my kind of photographer – a scribbled note I made, from one of the wall texts in the show, characterises the work as “neutral, emotionless, apparently anonymous (like the subject itself) snapshots”, and as “anti-style – style that seems to be devoid of style”. Great stuff.
Shore was a precocious artist: as the C│O Berlin newspaper (No.10 / 02.2016) recounts, at the age of 14, in 1961, he rang up Edward Steichen, then MoMA’s Director of the Photography Dept., and said, “I’d like to show you my work”; Steichen bought three of his pictures! When Shore was 18, in 1965, he met Andy Warhol who invited him to visit the Factory. Shore was at the Factory nearly every day for the next two years photographing the scene. In 1971, aged 24, he was the first living photographer to be given a solo show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The next year he set out on journeys around America with a 35mm camera: “I was photographing almost every meal I ate, every person I met, every waiter or waitress who served me, every bed I slept in, every toilet I used.” These pictures became American Surfaces. Dissatisfied with the limitations of 35mm negatives Shore subsequently travelled America (1973-1981) with a large format camera which, of course, transformed his approach from casual to carefully considered, and resulted in pictures of extraordinary detail which became the series Uncommon Places.
Read a review by Francesca Wade.
(Click on images to enlarge.)

Stephen Shore, [Warhol], c1965/7
Stephen Shore, [Warhol], c1965/7
Stephen Shore, West Palm Beach, Florida, April - May 1973 (‘American Surfaces’)

Stephen Shore (‘American Surfaces’)

Stephen Shore, Room 125, Westbank Motel, Idaho Falls, Idaho, July 18, 1973 (‘Uncommon Places’)

Stephen Shore, South of Klamath Falls, U.S. 97, Oregon, July 21, 1973 (‘Uncommon Places’)

Stephen Shore, Natural Bridge, New York, July 31, 1974 (‘Uncommon Places’)

Stephen Shore, Beverly Boulevard and La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles, California, June 21, 1975 (‘Uncommon Places’)
Shore’s work, for the most part, is almost pure Americana and is perfectly complemented by Ulrich Wüst’s which, while similarly cool and seemingly dispassionate, betrays a profoundly European sensibility. An East German photographer, Wüst had to work within the limitations of state control and prior to reunification his pictures were little seen outside Germany. His small, carefully composed, black and white photographs present enigmatic scenes suffused with melancholy.

Ulrich Wüst, from Stadtbilder (Cityscapes), 1979-83

Ulrich Wüst, from Randlagen (Peripheries), since 1994

Ulrich Wüst, from Spätsommer (Late Summer), 1989-90

Ulrich Wüst, from Spätsommer (Late Summer), 1989-90

Ulrich Wüst, from Spätsommer (Late Summer), 1989-90