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From Publishers Weekly
Andy Warhol looms larger than Alfred Stieglitz over this survey of contemporary photographers, who tend to be more preoccupied with popular and commercial imagery than traditional fine art photography. With their digital manipulations and cinematically constructed narratives, many of them unabashedly embrace flashy artifice over sober documentation. Not that Bright, a former curator of the National Portrait Gallery in London, tries to categorize the messy vitality of contemporary photography into any clearly labeled trends. She divides the 80 mostly British and American photographers into seven thematic chapters that allow for wide latitude. "Portraits," for example, includes both Zwelethu Mthethwa's straightforward images of South African migrant workers and Gillian Wearing's photos of herself dressed as several of her own family members. While Bright's own commentary follows the ponderous style adopted by curators everywhere, she gives equal room to the words of the photographers themselves, who often provide insight without even trying. Cindy Sherman, whose 1980s photographs of herself masquerading as movie stars and historical characters set the stage for much of the work in this book, says, "I didn't know where [my art] was coming from. So I thought I had better not say anything or I'd blow it." (Nov.)
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In the previous century, photography helped shape art; in the current one, it has begun to dominate it. Not only are major international museums and galleries mounting blockbuster exhibitions, but art photographers are also being celebrated as contemporary masters and their work commands unprecedented prices. This indispensable survey presents the work of 76 of the most important and best-known art photographers in the world: Andreas Gursky, Thomas Struth, Cindy Sherman, Jeff Wall, Sophie Calle, Wolfgang Tillmans, Nan Goldin, Martin Parr, Allan Sekula, Boris Mikhailov, Inez van Lamsweerde, Stephen Meisel, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Sam Taylor-Wood, and many more are featured in its pages. Susan Bright, former Curator of Photographs at London's National Portrait Gallery, has organized the book into seven sections--City, Portrait, Document, Object, Landscape, Fashion, and Narrative--and provides an introductory essay for each. Along with each photographer's works, presented in sequence within those divisions, Bright's commentaries provide context and depth, and quotations from the artists themselves offer valuable insights into the motivation, inspiration, and intentions behind the work. Following in the tradition of Photography Past/Forward: Aperture at 50 and the Photography Speaks series, this volume will become an essential resource for curators, collectors, scholars, practitioners, and anyone who wants comprehensive, up-to-date exposure to the state of the medium today. Edited by Susan Bright. Hardcover, 9 x 10.75 in./224 pgs / 250 color.