American Places

new_topo_stephen_shore_-custom The road trip is something of an American institution. From Kerouac in the forties to Robert Frank in the fifties and Stephen Shore in the seventies, artists have attempted to get to grips with this sprawling nation through long distance driving.

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Stephen Shore’s work is of particular interest because it seems to capture the DNA of America. The majestic landscapes which dwarf its citizens, the angular grids of small town streets that try to impose order, the gas stations and motels that seem to be encouraging people to explore and just ‘go’.

Overall we feel the essential emptiness of the place. The streets he pictures are often deserted, the interiors void of life, as if everyone who occupies space in this country is keeping a distance from everybody else.

5th Street and Broadway, Eureka, California, September 2, 1974

Perhaps the most lasting impression is that world is American in a way that it can never be again. The lots in these images are full of Detroit made cars, the diners full of American produce and the street corners feature local stores and banks.

It’s a poignant reminder that when we bear witness to the present it becomes a lost past within a very short passage of time.

Twenty-First Street and Spruce Street,

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