The Red Bulli. Stephen Shore and The Düsseldorf School of Photography

Stephen Shore: 'Church Street and Second Street, Easton, Pennsylvania,' June 20, 1974 © Stephen Shore, Courtesy 303 Gallery New York



In 1973, the 26-year-old American photographer Stephen Shore met the German photographer couple Bernd and Hilla Becher at the opening of their show at Ileana Sonnabend gallery in New York. This was the beginning of a long-lasting and fruitful artistic friendship.



Bernd und Hilla Becher: 'Collage (Wassertürme / Watertowers)', 1967 Courtesy Jack Kirkland Collection, London



Bernd and Hilla Becher gained fame by their concept of typological photographic documentation of water-towers and industrial buildings. The exhibition at the right hand side starts with early conceptual photo series by Stephen Shore and Bernd and Hilla Becher.



Stephen Shore: 'Ginger Shore, Causeway Inn, Tampa, Florida', November 17, 1977 Courtesy Stephen Shore/Aperture Foundation



Then, it moves on to Shore's 'American Surfaces' and 'Uncommon Places' series, which made him a key figure of the US New Color Photography movement. Often, these are seemingly trivial examples of American everyday life. This was a revolutionary act, at a time, when artistic photography was mainly seen as highly aesthetic black and white photography (by Richard Avedon for instants). Just like in the  photograpphy of William Eggleston, you can find certain aspects of pop art adopted to the medium of photography.



Andreas Gursky: 'Ratingen, Sonntagsspaziergänger', 1984 © Andreas Gursky, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn Courtesy Sprüth Magers Berlin London



In 1976, the Bechers started their legendary photography course at the Academy of Art in Düsseldorf; Germany. Andreas Gursky, Thomas Ruff or Candida Höfer are only three of their very successful students. The Bechers introduced the photographs of Stephen Shore from an early beginning on to their class.



Thomas Ruff: 'Interieur 1D 1982 (Tegernsee)' Courtesy Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie, 2008 Schenkung der Friedrich Christian Flick Collection © Thomas Ruff / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, Foto: bpk



The second, left-hand, part of the show investigates the influence of Shore upon Becher's students. I find it very interesting to search for similar approaches in the works of the 'old' masters and the students.



Boris Becker: 'River Valley Motor Lodge', 1994 © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn



Bernd Becher helped Stephen Shore in 1977 to arrange his first institutional solo exhibition at the Kunsthalle in Düsseldorf. However it lasted until 1995, that Mr. Shore attended the Becher calss for the first time personally. Stephen Shore's photographs even were included in Documenta 6 in 1977.


I think this is a very good show about the transatlantic influence of Stephen Shore on the Becher school of photography.


by U.G.L.




'Der Rote Bulli. Stephen Shore and the New Düsseldorf Photography' at NRW-Forum Düsseldorf, Germany

Through 16 January 2011




Untitled, Paris series, 2006-2008 (c) Eggleston Artistic Trust courtesy Cheim and Read, New York
Richard Avedon: 'Self-portrait', Provo, Utah, August 20, 1980; © 2009 The Richard Avedon Foundation courtesy of SFMOMA


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