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4.4 out of 5 stars29
4.4 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 15 August 2006
This book is an excellent introduction to contemporary photographic themes and practitioners, it's well-written, up-to-date and great value for money.

Unfortunately, because so much ground is covered in such a small space, it's hard to get a true appreciation of some photographers' work when it is summarised down to one or two sentences. Similarly, virtually all photographers are represented by a single image which, due to the format of the book, is often too small for practical purposes. Many of the phographers work demands to be seen as a series if it is to be understood.

These failings are unfortunate but, given the size and price of the book, inevitable. After reading this you will certainly find yourself seeking out more detailed information on many of the artists featured, but you will at least have a clear overall picture of the contemporary art-photographic scene.
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on 7 April 2009
Opposed to what is said in the introduction this is actually a "checklist of the photographers who merit a mention in a discussion on photography as contemporary art (...) in major art centers such as New York, Berlin Tokyo or London". That is it. A good, handy sort of "who is who" type of catalog of contemporary artists and trends.
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on 7 February 2011
This is the first book of this kind I've read. Having recently started a Photography degree I was recommended this book by my tutor. Up to now I've been one of those who thinks a lot of what is nowadays called art to be absolute rubbish, preferring instead to wallow in the traditional "if it looks like a beautifully painted forest scene then it's art, if it looks like a table leg with an apple taped to it - it isn't" kind of view. I have to say right now that Charlotte Cotton has taken my philistine, blinkered view and transformed it into something more appreciative of the many forms art can take. Not an easy task I can assure you.

When I first started reading this book I really thought I would be quite dismissive to what it had to say, but within the first chapter I felt the way Charlotte described the ideas behind certain styles really started to resonate with me. By the end of the first chapter I was hooked, almost to the point where I was flicking ahead to see what the other chapters were called and what else I would be covering.

This book is a journey! It's really not light reading and I found I did have to concentrate on every page in order to absorb what point Charlotte was making on behalf of the photographers and styles that are represented. Some of the English used is what I consider typical of someone at Charlotte's level of understanding of art and there are times where I've known every word being used in the sentence or paragraph but struggled to understand the actual meaning. Something I found to be really useful for me was to open Wikipedia on the bits I was struggling to understand and use it in conjunction with her descriptions to get the full picture.

At the end of this book you will have an appreciation of photography's role within contemporary art even if you don't particularly like a style being discussed (I'm sorry, but I really don't like Deadpan at all). You don't have to like something to appreciate what goes into it andr what it's trying to convey.

I recommend this book to anyone who could relate to my first paragraph. It's not going to be an easy ride at times but it's most certainly an enlightening one.
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on 18 March 2006
This is a truly brilliant introduction to the themes and issues in contemporary art photography; very well-written and accessible, it touches on the work of an interesting and truly international selection of current photographers and artists who use this medium. Using a collection of broad and interlocking themes, it provides an indispensible scaffolding upon which those unfamiliar with current "art-think" can make sense of this demanding and constantly changing discipline. This book is amazingly unpretentious, with language which is engaging, clear and concise. It is impressively up to date, and (especially for the price) the choice, number and quality of reproductions is remarkable; a must for all students of art and design. Charlotte Cotton should be congratulated and commissioned to re-write this book every five years.
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on 10 March 2005
This book gives an excellent introduction to photography as a contemporary art form. Arranged in clear sections dealing with aspects of art photography, such as the deadpan approach, or photography of, and as, an artistic act, the book gives a brief description of each approach discussing its key photographers in turn. The pictures, though small, are well chosen and fascinating. If you've ever felt there is more to photography read this book.
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on 31 May 2010
This book has come in to much use as I'm taking A.S photography, this book covers most sections of contemporary art with a good amount of information on each artist. With this book I'm never short of an artist to write about.Also this book is around A5 so you ca carry it around with you which also helps if you want to carry it around.
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This is a well argued and illustrated book on contemporary photography: good for academic study and interesting to get a sense of what art photography actually is. I am interested in photography and use it for business quite a lot: this, obviously, is entirely practical, but not without art or skill. As is the case with much of contemporary art, today, the photography here is conceptual, guided by an idea as opposed to technical skill and some of the works do seem to be very common-place. However, there are some works that are arresting, even beautiful, which probably is not the point. Photography as art, as opposed to fashion or reportage etc. has probably not been much in the public eye since the 1920's and 30's, changing over the war years and being a vehicle for recording images, including contemporary art works, but not works of art in themselves. I was surprised not to see any works by Hockney as he has used photography extensively, but not photography as print, which is what these works are, covering objects, tableaux and people. I am still undecided, but students of photography and anyone with a serious interest in contemporary art would find much of interest in this book.
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on 12 April 2013
This book contains over 200 of the most boring and sterile photographs you are ever likely to find in one place. Charlotte Cotton also writes in an archaic style which does not make for easy reading. So it's a Thumbs Down from me.

Presented rather like an academic thesis, putting the works into categories is useful but it seems strange that the author needs to explain why each image has a place in contemporary fine art photography. To my mind an image should speak for itself. To be up there with the best, contemporary or otherwise, it needs ideally to stop you in your tracks, trigger an emotional reaction, engage the imagination or at least make you think. I love edgey, non conformist images which break the dreaded "rules" but I'm afraid very few in this book do that. Indeed it is their very "ordinariness" which seems to get most of them into the book at all. Very odd!

Students of photography should be aware of work by the likes of Tillmans, Gursky and Wall, but is it possible that many contemporary photographers are deliberately producing work which is mundane because that is what leading galleries and collectors want? They say if you want to get noticed then be controversial but surely not with photographs which bore the pants off everyone.

For me most of what is in the book is neither good contemporary photography nor good art. Add to that the arcane way it is written and I'm sorry but I cannot recommend it. I've given it two stars rather than one because it's cheap from Amazon. My copy will now go to a charity bookshop where potential buyers can flip through it before deciding whether or not it is for them.
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on 3 November 2010
This is not for the faint-hearted or for the happy snapper. The language is very academic and the arguments and deep and heated, but it opens new vistas that other wise I would not have explored. I do not go along with all of the propositions, but it made me think and that is no bad thing for a septuagenarian!!
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on 28 May 2013
I'm a photography degree student and I'd recommend this to any student interested in in any genre of the field, contemporary art includes so many genres and styles that you're guru teed to find interesting takes on your preferred style. I liked it so much I didn't just want to borrow it for uni, I had to buy it :)
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