Stephen Shore - Photographs New York Wednesday, October 11, 2023 | Phillips
  • “To see something spectacular and recognize it as a photographic possibility is not making a very big leap. But to see something ordinary, something you’d see every day, and recognize it as a photographic possibility, that’s what I am interested in.”

    In 1973, Stephen Shore departed his home in New York City and set out to venture west. Traveling across the country by car, Shore documented quintessentially American scenes which resulted in his seminal series Uncommon Places. An evolution of his previous project, American Surfaces, which focused on much of the same subject matter, Uncommon Places differs due to Shore’s technical prowess and compositional choices. Shooting with an 8x10 large format camera, the photographer modified the naturalistic snapshot quality of his prior work and developed a more refined, formal aesthetic.


    This summer, in celebration of the 50th year anniversary of the project, Shore has been posting iconic images from Uncommon Places on his Instagram @stephen.shore. The posts document the famed road trip sequentially, showing images on the exact date on which they were taken 50 years prior. Lots 190 and 195 are included in Uncommon Places. Lot 189 was taken in the same period and is an early print of the image.


    Stephen Shore, Instagram, 3 July 2023

    The remarkable group of photographs comprising Lots 161 through 200 in this auction come from the collection of Fred and Laura Bidwell, collectors, philanthropists, and founders of the Transformer Station, the renowned exhibition space for contemporary photography and art in the Hingetown neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio. The Bidwells’ collection presents a truly enlightened selection of work, ranging from classic practitioners such as Lee Friedlander and Stephen Shore to photographers working at the very cutting edge of today’s artistic practice, such as Kehinde Wiley, Zanele Muholi, and Hank Willis Thomas, among many others. Themes of identity and self-representation course through these works. An inquiry into the intrinsic nature of photography is another through-line, with artists as conceptually diverse as Alison Rossiter, Matthew Brandt, and Christopher Williams pushing the boundaries of the medium to deepen our understanding of it. Central to the collection is Hiroshi Sugimoto’s masterful Lightning Fields 128 (lot 169), which is emblematic of the creative spark underlying Bidwells’ progressive conception of photography.   


    Driven by a passion for photography and a desire to make their collection accessible to the public, the Bidwells renovated a former Cleveland Railway Company transformer substation into a state-of-the-art exhibition venue. Boasting 3,500 square feet of exhibition space, the Transformer Station became a vital part of the city’s artistic community, hosting exhibitions drawn from the Bidwells’ collection, exhibitions curated by the Cleveland Museum of Art, as well as performances and talks. Earlier this year, the Bidwells gifted Transformer Station to the Cleveland Museum of Art which will continue to use this unique space. 


    Proceeds from the sale of these works will support the Bidwells’ active philanthropic endeavors. 




    Read More about High Voltage →

    • Provenance

      303 Gallery, New York

    • Exhibited

      A Shared Vision: The Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell Photography Collection, Akron Art Museum, Akron, 23 February - 25 May 2008

    • Literature

      Aperture, Stephen Shore: Uncommon Places - The Complete Works, p. 54

High Voltage: Contemporary Photographs from the Collection of Fred and Laura Bidwell


Mount Blue Shopping Center, Farmington, Maine, 7/30/74

Chromogenic print, printed 2003.
16 3/4 x 21 3/8 in. (42.5 x 54.3 cm)
Signed, titled, dated, and numbered 1/8 in ink on the verso.

Full Cataloguing

$8,000 - 12,000 

Sold for $8,890

Contact Specialist

Sarah Krueger
Head of Department, Photographs


Vanessa Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs and Chairwoman, Americas


New York Auction 11 October 2023