Stephen Shore and Peter Schjeldahl Debate Art School and Instagram at Aperture Bookstore

Stephen Shore, U.S. 97, South of Klamath Falls, Oregon, July 21, 1973.© Stephen Shore, Courtesy of the artist and 303 Gallery, New York

Stephen Shore, U.S. 97, South of Klamath Falls, Oregon, July 21, 1973.


On Tuesday, October 7th, the upstairs gallery and book store of the Aperture Foundation in Chelsea, was crowded with Stephen Shore fans. A mixture of students, teachers, gallery regulars, and any number of Shore’s 56,000 followers on Instagram were there to hear the artist speak with The New Yorker‘s art critic Peter Schjeldahl, who started out by characterizing Shore’s subject matter; “interesting enough, but not too interesting.” Shore’s pictures, he said, are of things waiting to be noticed, with which the world is filled, because “even a plate of fried eggs has signed a release.”

The event was to celebrate Shore’s forthcoming book, Stephen Shore: Survey, as well as his retrospective at Fundación MAPFRE this fall. There was lengthy discussion about the usefulness and limitations of art school (Shore is the head of the photography program at Bard, and Schjeldahl taught a studio class at Harvard for four years). Shore is for them, Schjeldahl against them. Instead, Schjeldahl advised, “if you’re in your twenties you have to make mistakes. Stay up extra late to make extra mistakes.”

Later, one audience member asked how Shore decides what is a picture for Instagram, and what is a picture that will end up as a print on the wall, loosely splitting the two types of pictures into the categories “Instagram” and “Art.” His 8 x 10 camera, Shore explained, lets many things into an image, whereas instagram is for one thing at a time. Would Schjeldahl ever consider trying it? No, never, no thank you. He had enough trouble, he said, a few years ago when that contemporary artist from Scotland started a Facebook profile in his name.

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