In 1977, Stephen Shore traveled across New York state, Pennsylvania, and eastern Ohio – an area in the midst of industrial decline that would eventually be known as the Rust Belt. Shore met steelworkers who had been thrown out of work by plant closures and photographed their suddenly fragile world: deserted factories, lonely bars, dwindling high streets, and lovingly decorated homes.
Across these images, a prosperous middle America is seen teetering on the precipice of disastrous decline. Hope and despair alike lurk restlessly behind the surfaces of shop fronts, domestic interiors, and the fraught expressions of those who confront Shore’s 4×5” view camera.
Originally commissioned as an extended photographic report for Fortune Magazine in the vein of Walker Evans, Shore’s multifaceted investigation has only gained political salience in the intervening years. Shore’s subjects – including workers, union leaders, and family members – had voted for Jimmy Carter the year preceding his visit; now he found them disillusioned with the new president, fated to leave behind the Democratic party and become the ‘Reagan Democrats’.
Through unfailingly engrossing images by one of the world’s acknowledged masters, Steel Town provides an immersive portrait of a time and place whose significance to our own is ever more urgent. With a newly commissioned essay by Jane Kramer, The New Yorker’s European correspondent. Forthcoming in Spring 2021, published by Mack Books.
The signed edition includes an extra image plate signed by the artist and glued into the inside back cover.
About the Author
Stephen Shore’s work has been widely published and exhibited for the past forty-five years. He was the first living photographer to have a one-man show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York since Alfred Stieglitz, forty years earlier.
He has also had one-man shows at George Eastman House, Rochester; Kunsthalle, Dusseldorf; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Jeu de Paume, Paris; and Art Institute of Chicago. In 2017, the Museum of Modern Art opened a major retrospective spanning Stephen Shore’s entire career. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. His series of exhibitions at Light Gallery in New York in the early 1970s sparked new interest in color photography and in the use of the view camera for documentary work.
More than 25 books have been published of Stephen Shore’s photographs including Uncommon Places: The Complete Works; American Surfaces; Stephen Shore, a retrospective monograph in Phaidon’s Contemporary Artists series; Stephen Shore: Survey and most recently, Transparencies: Small Camera Works 1971-1979 and Stephen Shore: Elements.
In 2017, the Museum of Modern Art published Stephen Shore in conjunction with their retrospective of his photographic career. Stephen also wrote The Nature of Photographs, published by Phaidon Press, which addresses how a photograph functions visually. His work is represented by 303 Gallery, New York; and Sprüth Magers, London, and Berlin.
Since 1982 he has been the director of the Photography Program at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, where he is the Susan Weber Professor in the Arts.