Juicy cantaloupe, a stack of pancakes topped with frothy butter, and a filled-to-the-brim glass of pure white milk are ready to be devoured by the traveler who has stopped for breakfast in a dusty Western town. This photograph is part of Shore’s series Uncommon Places, which was shot with an 8-by-10-inch view camera during the artist’s road trips across the United States. Like photographers before him (Walker Evans, Robert Frank), Shore, a native New Yorker, set out to capture daily life across the country, though in his case the camera was a device by which to frame unexpected—and often seemingly unremarkable—aspects of the scenery. His focus on small-town street corners, modest storefronts, and other run-of-the-mill sights of the 1970s suggests the influence of the Conceptual artists of this same period, who frequently used a vernacular style of photography in their images of the mundane American landscape.
Unlike some of his predecessors, however, Shore presents his pictures in vibrant color and vivid detail. Snapping a 35mm picture “just like that,” he has said, is quite different from setting up the shot with a large-format camera. At Trail’s End Restaurant, he stood on a chair to find the view he wanted. He later recalled, “The food was cold by the time I took the picture.”
Publication excerpt from From MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2019).