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52 of 59 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Info-Packed and Insightful (the 2nd [2009] Ed. Having 24 More Pages Than the 1st [2004] Ed.), With Only Minor Imperfections
UPDATE JANUARY 2010: My review of the first (2004) edition is given verbatim below. In the next paragraph I compare the first edition and the second (2009) edition.

The first 217 pages of the 2nd ed. are different in only minor ways from the first 217 pages of the 1st ed.* However, pages 218-241 in the 2nd ed. contain a new final chapter 8, "Physical and...
Published on December 14, 2004 by ReviewerWhoPrefersToBeAnonymous

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good work that makes you want some more
A graphically well documented introduction to the place of photography in contemporary art, although it probably needs more than a couple hundreds pictures and basic descriptions to go around such a broad topic, it didn't feel like a bad place to start. The author tried to categorize photographs and their work in 7 different sections which form the different chapters of...
Published on March 29, 2010 by David Van Elslande


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52 of 59 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Info-Packed and Insightful (the 2nd [2009] Ed. Having 24 More Pages Than the 1st [2004] Ed.), With Only Minor Imperfections, December 14, 2004
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This review is from: The Photograph as Contemporary Art (World of Art) (Paperback)
UPDATE JANUARY 2010: My review of the first (2004) edition is given verbatim below. In the next paragraph I compare the first edition and the second (2009) edition.

The first 217 pages of the 2nd ed. are different in only minor ways from the first 217 pages of the 1st ed.* However, pages 218-241 in the 2nd ed. contain a new final chapter 8, "Physical and Mental," discussing photographic works for which "the very nature of the medium is part of the narrative of the work." Among other topics, chapter 8 covers appropriation (e.g., rephotographing photographs); analog versus digital photography; and photographs in sculptures, collages, multimedia installations, books, and Web sites. Artists discussed in this chapter include James Welling, Isa Genzken, Walead Beshty, Zoe Leonard, An-My Le, Ed Ruscha, Rinko Kawauchi, and others. The writing style is similar to the first seven chapters, and is again of high quality. The "Further Reading" list on pages 242-243 in the 2nd ed. has references as recent as 2009. In conclusion, if you own the 1st ed., you MAY wish to replace it with the 2nd ed., but it's not an absolute must.

* In specific, p.10 has a new paragraph summarizing the new final chapter, material on Sherrie Levine has been moved from p.214 to the new final chapter, and the paragraph on Vibeke Tandberg on p.217 is slightly reworded.

--- DECEMBER 14, 2004, REVIEW OF FIRST (2004) EDITION FOLLOWS ---

This information-packed paperback, which is relatively small for an art book, has an Introduction and seven chapters. The Intro specifies that the book is a "the kind of overview you might experience if you visited exhibitions in a range of venues." After summarizing the chapters, the Intro concludes with descriptions of photographers who are "figureheads" or "cornerstones" of contemporary artistic photography: Eggleston, Shore, the Bechers, Keita, Goldblatt, and Meatyard.

Chapter 1, "If This Is Art," covers photos for which the artist has created an event prior to the shutter's being released. Among the artists discussed are Philip-Lorca diCorcia and Erwin Wurm. As a small problem, three of the photographs are reproduced at a rather small size (<15 square cm).

In Chapter 2, "Once Upon a Time," the author writes of photography in which "narrative is loaded into a single frame," which the author also calls "tableau photography." The prototypic artist here is Jeff Wall.

The next two chapters are my least favorite in the book. Chapter 3, "Deadpan," concerns a "cool, detached and keenly sharp type of photography." Many of the "deadpan" photographers, such as Andreas Gursky and Thomas Struth, were influenced by the Bechers and use large photos to convey their points. Chapter 4, "Something and Nothing," discusses still lifes, architecture, and nature shots that "push[] the boundaries of what might be considered a credible visual subject." Maybe I'm missing the point, but I fail to understand how many of the photos (e.g., of car panels in a doorway, a globe in a window, and a pink fabric bow) are artful.

Chapter 5's theme, "Intimate Life," encompasses work by photographers such as Larry Clark, Nan Goldin, and Wolfgang Tillmans. Chapter 6's theme, "Moments in History," does not relate to photojournalism, but rather to "aftermath photography" and the documentation of various groups of people in an almost anthropological fashion. If Chapter 3 suffers from the book's inability to show the photos close to their full size, Chapters 5 and 6 suffer from the book's inability to show sequences of photos by each artist.

Chapter 7, "Revived and Remade," is my favorite. This concentrates on photographs that "exploit[] our pre-existing knowledge of imagery." Works by Joan Fontcuberta, Thomas Ruff, Cindy Sherman, Gillian Wearing, and others make one think hard about the nature of photography.

The back pages give references for further reading, a list of the over 200 photos (giving dimensions of the originals etc.), and an index of photographers (who hail from many countries). Overall the book is well-written and insightful. Don't miss this book at Amazon.com!
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Good Survey, December 11, 2007
This review is from: The Photograph as Contemporary Art (World of Art) (Paperback)
I am a photographer. I also live in New York City where I wander through art galleries displaying photographs with which I have a hard time coming to grips. Charlotte Cotton's book seemed to be aimed right at me.

What distinguishes a contemporary art photograph from other beautiful photographs is not always clear, but like Supreme Court Justice Stewart, I know it when I see it. From what the author suggests, it may be that contemporary art photography is less concerned with the form and more with the content, and that viewers are meant to be semiologists decoding what a photograph stands for.

Cotton begins her book with an introduction that includes a taxonomy of contemporary art photography, and to the extent that classifying an object helps us to know and understand it, the introduction alone justifies the book. Surprisingly, rather than look at style or subject matter, she organizes the book based upon the photographers' motivations and working practices. For example one of the classes is pictures of events that have been specifically organized to be photographed while another is pictures that aim to reproduce or refer back to something in the history of photography and other arts.

Each of the classes is allocated a chapter, and allocates a paragraph each to the work several artists, along with a representative photograph. Cotton explains how the photograph fits into the genre and explains something of the meaning of the work. Most of the photographs are just large enough to provide some appreciation of the work and the explanations are as concise as possible.

The book is meant to be a survey and so is more useful for providing a framework for understanding the overall categories than appreciating any individual picture. It should also be noted that the book does not cover a great deal of recent popular photography like the works of Annie Liebovitz or Art Wolfe. I expect that these photographers are seen as working in an older tradition and that they are not "post modern", again, whatever that means.

For the individual who is trying to get his arms around the direction and meaning of much of modern art photography, as well as for people who have dismissed contemporary art photography as unfathomable, this book will provide a good introduction, particularly since Cotton doesn't seem to be tied to the language of deconstruction, but rather speaks without jargon. Yet this is a field of such great variety that even if one read all of the hundreds of books listed by the author for further reading, one would have only scratched the surface.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Introduction, March 9, 2006
This review is from: The Photograph as Contemporary Art (World of Art) (Paperback)
This book is a great introduction to understanding the world of contemporary photography. I have appreciated how the chapters are set-up as a look into the main branches of contemporary photography. If you are a photographer, it can help you discover more people who are doing work which relates to your work or inspires you. Because it has information about so many different photographers it cannot cover them all as thoroughly as one might like; however, it acts as a wonderful springboard into further research. I have found it very useful in searching for great works of photography.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A bargain, March 30, 2009
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This review is from: The Photograph as Contemporary Art (World of Art) (Paperback)
This book has an interesting organization, with the chapters classifying artists according to their artistic vision or motivation. Unfortunately, the text does not do justice to this analytical approach with the description of photographs and photographers being mostly superficial. There isn't much of an attempt to link contemporary photography with its social and cultural environment.

However, what makes the book a real bargain are the photographs. You get to browse through the work of many of the important photographers of the last few decades in one place and to contrast them with one another. The small size of the reproductions is somewhat disappointing, but it is made up by the large number of photographs and the low price of the book. The printing and paper quality are good.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Read for Art/Photo Students, May 3, 2011
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I'm currently working on my MFA in Studio Art Photography and this is MUST read. It's contemporary dialogue about photography as art but it delves into sociological as well as technological components associated with this medium.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good work that makes you want some more, March 29, 2010
A graphically well documented introduction to the place of photography in contemporary art, although it probably needs more than a couple hundreds pictures and basic descriptions to go around such a broad topic, it didn't feel like a bad place to start. The author tried to categorize photographs and their work in 7 different sections which form the different chapters of the book, classified according to working methods, the subjects they study, their aesthetics (to be being emotionally neutral or not ?), their place in photo/art history and the use of new techniques, their theatrical aspect (or the lack of it), their intimacy, the story(ies) they tell and so on.
This kind of classification is of course only one possible approach to categorizing it all - and many works are "trans-genre" and would probably required to be studied longer...which is not the purpose of this book. A good and short book, no less, no more.
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5.0 out of 5 stars In perfect condition, April 13, 2014
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I bought this book used and it is in perfect condition it even looks just like a new one .
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4.0 out of 5 stars A good photographic read, January 29, 2014
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This is a good read that gives insight into the mind of the artist and leads into good discussion for photography classes.
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5.0 out of 5 stars You'll learn a lot, December 20, 2013
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I'm learning a lot of things about the background and concepts behind the work of great photographers, I recommend this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very Informational, October 15, 2013
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Its a very dense read, but provides great insight in to modern photography without bias. You get information based on the way of shooting rather then a list of people and why there work is contemporary.
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The Photograph as Contemporary Art (World of Art)
The Photograph as Contemporary Art (World of Art) by Charlotte Cotton (Paperback - Oct. 2004)
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