Win American Surfaces by Stephen Shore: The origins of the road trip

By Joaquín G. Novales. June 11, 2012

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The road trip myth probably wouldn’t exist without Stephen Shore’s pictures. While travelling throughout the USA in the early 70s, Andy Warhol’s "self-taught" disciple would lay the foundations of this so-20th-century romantic imagery that photographers, writers and film-makers would then perpetuate for decades. But Shore wasn’t the only one to cross the country from coast to coast. Robert Frank, Robert Adams or the photographers from the Farm Security Administration had already portrayed the depth of the United States, touring its roads with rickety Chevrolets and dreadful vans.

Shore is not suggesting a revolutionary act with his trips. He only tries to be honest. He does what he wants and how he wants. His style tries to portrait an age. That is why in American Surfaces we find colour Kodak prints, frontal snapshots, modest landscapes and a never-ending catalogue of portraits of fellow travellers. Everything that is there and that is not obvious; and because it isn't obvious nobody pays attention to it. Shore opens the flash of his camera and takes pictures in a manner that would horrify purists, mixing the magnificent with the ordinary and pasting it in his pictures. American Surfaces is nothing more than the routine of his adventures, a renewed photo album with a language that is completely modern. With these pictures, Shore advances a style that photography would follow for years in all its variations.

If you want to enjoy this book forever, it’s very easy: visualMAG is giving away this great copy of American Surfaces published by Phaidon. All you have to do is take part in the photo contest* we are holding via Facebook and send us a picture of your road trip before the 26th of June. The picture that gets more votes will win. Happy shooting!


* The competition will start next Wednesday 13th. You will find all the information on visualMAG’s Facebook page.

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