Classic Color

STEPHEN SHORE: “NRW-Forum Düsseldorf – Der Rote Bulli (The Red Bus)” (2010)


September 3, 2010

Church and Second Streets, Easton, Pennsylvania, June 20, 1974

Der Rote Bulli. Stephen Shore and the New Düsseldorf Photography, September 11, 2010 – January 16, 2011

For the 2010 Quadrennial, the NRW-Forum Düsseldorf is focusing for the first time on
an important chapter in the recent history of photography: the transatlantic influence on photography in the 1970s and 1980s. Right at the heart of this chapter is a friendship between three artists that was forged in New York in the year 1973. It was in this sprawling American metropolis that the 26-year-old Stephen Shore met the Düsseldorf photographer Hilla Becher, whose typological photographic documentation of water-towers, which she had put together with her husband, Bernd Becher, had gone on display at Ileana Sonnabend’s renowned gallery the previous year. Two years later, Stephen Shore and the Bechers became the only colour photographer and Europeans respectively to be part of the legendary New Topographics group exhibition.

Presidio, Texas, February 21, 1975

The focus of the NRW-Forum exhibition is on Stephen Shore, a key figure in the US New Color Photography movement. From the mid 1970s onwards, Shore made several road trips through the United States, documenting ‘American Life’, the apparent banality of which caused incredible irritation among his contemporaries. The first part of the exhibition, which is based on the New York Aperture Foundation’s Biographical Landscape retrospective, will provide a comprehensive overview of Shore’s ground-breaking work in the 1970s and 1980s. Starting with conceptual black-and-white photos and several markedly ironic series of vernacular photographs, the NRW-Forum will show bodies of works from the epoch-making projects American Surfaces and Uncommon Places.

Thanks, among other things, to the support of Bernd Becher, Stephen Shore’s colour series became more widely known in Europe and particularly in Germany from the mid 1970s onwards. In spring 1977, Becher helped Shore arrange his first institutional solo exhibition in the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf. Pictures from the Uncommon Places series, which were taken from Bernd Becher’s private collection, were also exhibited at documenta 6 (1977) and at the photography trade fair photokina (1978, 1980). From an early stage, the work of the US New Color Photography movement influenced the students on Bernd Becher’s photography course at the Kunstakademie (Academy of Art) in Düsseldorf, a course which was created in 1976.

El Paso Street, El Paso, Texas, July 5, 1975

The second part of the exhibition Der Rote Bulli. Stephen Shore and the New Düsseldorf
photography will explore the innovative motifs that Becher’s class developed in the exciting area between their own photographic tradition and that of the US tradition. Even the early work of Candida Höfer, Thomas Ruff, Volker Döhne, Tata Ronkholz, Thomas Struth, and Axel Hütte, which dates from the 1970s, demonstrates the students’ yearning to push back the carefully drawn boundaries for motifs, image aesthetics, or concept prescribed by Becher to include the parameters of New Color. In addition to the autonomous use of colour (Thomas Ruff, Candida Höfer) and adaptations of motifs such as the return to street scenes (Volker Döhne, Thomas Struth) this urge is reflected in a preference for themes relating to consump-tion and everyday culture and specific atmospheric realities in photography (Tata Ronkholz, Axel Hütte). In the 1980s, Sally Eauclaire’s monograph The New Color Photography (1981) and Stephen Shore’s book Uncommon Places (1982) served as an even greater source of inspiration for the artistic strategies adopted by the next generation of photographers. The ex-hibition will investigate this influence on works by Wendelin Bottländer, Andreas Gursky, Andi Brenner, Martin Rosswog, Kris Scholz, Simone Nieweg, and Boris Becker. Stephen Shore’s influence lasted into the 1990s and can be seen in the early work of Claus Goedicke, Claudia Fährenkemper, Laurenz Berges, Elger Esser, Stefan Schneider, and Bernhard Fuchs.


In early 1995, Bernd Becher invited Stephen Shore to the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf for the first time. Shore spoke to the students on the photography course and looked at their portfolios. A short time previously, he had opened a retrospective of his work in the city of Münster, an event that marked the start of his artistic comeback.

Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California, August 13, 1979

The exhibition at the NRW-Forum will investigate the extent to which the students on Bernd Becher’s photography course at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf, the first generation of whom became world famous in the years that followed, were inspired by US subjects and image concepts from the 1970s and 1980s. The exhibition juxtaposes in a kaleidoscope manner works by students on Becher’s course that bear the hallmark of this transatlantic influence and Stephen Shore’s own photographs. It will also provide comprehensive documentation of the emergence of the New Düsseldorf Photography movement in early works.

Participating artists: Stephen Shore, Bernd und Hilla Becher, Thomas Struth, Axel Hütte, Tata Ronkholz, Miles Coolidge, Martin Rosswog, Thomas Ruff, Candida Höfer, Claus Goedicke, Simone Nieweg, Stefan Schneider, Kris Scholz, Wendelin Bottländer, Elger Esser, Andreas Gursky, Boris Becker, Bernhard Fuchs, Laurenz Berges, Andi Brenner, Volker Döhne, Claudia Fährenkemper, Matthias Koch

The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue in German and English Format 22,5 x 21,5 cm, approx. 250 pages., Hardcover, 33,- Euro
Title: Der Rote Bulli. Stephen Shore und die Neue Düsseldorfer Fotografie /
Stephen Shore and the new Düsseldorf Photography

Editors: Werner Lippert and Christoph Schaden
Authors: Christoph Schaden, Tony Hiss, Christoph Ribbat, Gerald Schröder, Jeffrey Ladd, Maren Polte, Overview of all students that took part in the class of Bernd Becher at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf

NRW-Forum Düsseldorf, Ehrenhof 2, 40479 Düsseldorf.,
Opening hours: Tue – Sun: 11 am – 8 pm, Fri 11 am – 12 mn
On September 11 the museum will close at 5 pm.

BOOKS: Stephen Shore

* Uncommon Places: The Complete Works (2005)
* American Surfaces (2008)
* The New Color Photography (1981)
* The Nature of Photographs: A Primer (2010)

Around the WEB: Stephen Shore

* 303 Gallery: Stephen Shore
* Wallpaper Magazine: Stephen Shore Interview
* “American Surfaces” at PS1
* MoCP: Stephen Shore
* NY Times: “Passing Mile Markers, Snapping Pictures”
* Doppelganger Magazine: Stephen Shore Interview
* Bill Charles Represents: Stephen Shore




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