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on 30 November 2017
Arrived safely and on time exactly as described - excellent purchase.
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on 3 December 2017
good indr, to cotemporary art.
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on 10 December 2013
As other reviewers have already pointed out, this book is not in any way a "very short introduction" to contemporary art. Nevertheless, others have given the book a pretty high appreciation on the grounds that it offers an interesting perspective, and, (I cite one of the reviews) it tackles all the main issues "in a clear and easy to understand manner".

It doesn't. I struggled with Stallabras's writing style, which obfuscates rather than clarifies. As a text, it is squarely aimed at those already familiar with contemportary art writing, including the jargon and key underpinning perspectives. The reader who doesn't have that background is left scratching his head while wading through paragraph after paragraph of a highly convoluted writing style that offers very little in the way of an analytical framework or even attempt to shine a light on the nature of contemporary art. Instead, the book is a series of connected essays that describe market forces and political developments and ideologies as they influence art, and commentary on contemporary art critics and academics and their perspectives, and how these in turn influence contemporary art.

I take the view that a book should be assessed based on what it sets out to achieve, and wouldn't want to judge it against a set of criteria that were not part of the writing brief. Reading OUP's overall brief ("These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors [...] make interesting and challenging topics highly readable"), I can only conclude that this booklet has failed spectacularly.
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on 11 August 2014
Stallabrass is a good writer. He has spent a lot of time meditating on contemporary art and, by the evidence of this book, has come to the conclusion that much of it is vacuous and compromised. It is a light read in elegantly phrased chapters that give just enough history and context to allow you to question the things you are likely to see in a contemporary art museum: who is constructing these visions?

I was impressed by his deconstruction of the modern world art developments in the international biennale scene and find myself questioning whether anything serious can really be attempted in this environment. As I sit in a monster shopping centre writing this, looking out the window at a motorway lined with grungy apartment buildings, I am struck by how irrelevant to my experience this art is.

Strange to say this having grown up with the idea that Art History had something to say, but Stallabrass seems to tell me that the history of what now goes for art is going to be a repetition of broad, hollow themes grouped around vain personalities. Worth reading.
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on 5 February 2017
A gift. Not read it.
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on 22 July 2011
Contemporary Art in a nut shell, with all the main issues tackled in a clear and easy to understand manner. Provides many useful ideas and quotes about art in a global market. A good jumping off point for further study.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 10 January 2008
I think this book is brilliant, yet I am not 100% sure why it is in the Very Short Introduction series. It isn't really an introduction to contemporary art. If you don't know much about art, and you don't know much about contemporary artists, you aren't going to be very much the wiser after reading this book, at least at a basic level. It deals only sketchily with the work of artists, using them to illustrate points rather than to tell you much about them or the artists themselves. It doesn't really set out to tell you what art is either, in any easily identifiable way.
Having said that, it gets five stars in my book because it illustrates a fascinating view of art that I have never really been aware of before. Stallabras talks about contemporary art in relation to world politics, commerce, consumerism and the worlds of big business and finance. He talks about how art has changed and been shaped by the demands that these external pressure points have put upon it, and what that means for the way we 'read' art and art works. He talks about how it affects our understanding of where art fits in the current world order and what that means for artists.
It is an incredibly interesting book, from which I have learned a great deal. It really made me think and made me look at things like how exhibitions are staged and what museums are for in a radically different light. It is well worth the money and the time to read it, but you do have to have some prior knowledge of art beforehand to get the best out of it.
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VINE VOICEon 16 August 2013
The Very Short Introduction series are written by professors of the subject and are aimed at provoking cross-discipline intrigue in the reader that may incite further investigation and reading - and boy, are they good at achieving exactly that; often they leave more questions than answers.

Contemporary art details examples of outrageous or intriguing but always thought-provoking pieces of art. It details the main themes in these works and how to interpret the artist's objectives. It also has a much larger macro-side to the book as it looks as art's intrinsic value and how it is received by the marketplace. Delving further reveals the globalisation and even mass production of art and how this affects it's value. Finally rounding off with the contradiction in the art world that have shaped the state of affairs today.

Whilst this is a well argued, informative and well referenced book, I really did not feel that this was much of an introduction, it deals with some pretty advanced themes and a lot of the artists I had literally never heard about before their mentioning, so when author Stallabrass says something is similar to someone else's styling, I often had to look them up for comparison basis. I am no art scholar, but I thought the introduction would have accounted for that, it is actually a lot more high-brow than a run-down for the layman. Whilst this isn't inherently a problem, it did make this pretty heavy going at some points. Cautiously recommended.
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on 24 August 2017
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on 26 April 2014
This one of the most interesting books I have read in a long time. Don't be put off by comments that it is difficult. If you're interested you'll be well-rewarded.
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