Top critical review
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Try to see a copy first...
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.