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Langweilige Postkarten: Boring Postcards Germany Hardcover – 15 May 2001


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Phaidon Press (15 May 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0714840629
  • ISBN-13: 978-0714840628
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 1.9 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 792,814 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Boredom amounts to the same in any culture, but English photographer Martin Parr, who curates Langweilige Postkarten (Boring Postcards Germany) as he did its precursors, Boring Postcards and Boring Postcards USA, has elevated it to an art form in all. What this new collection illustrates graphically is the remarkable similarity between post-war Britain and Germany, in terms of cube-shaped (rather than Cubist), grey, functional designs, unaccountably celebrated in card form as urbanscapes to cherish. Which, with retrospective post-modern irony, they are. Such kitsch could be over-sold, with rhapsodising commentary, but Parr has allowed the imagery space, which is the only way such a project could succeed. Consequently, the cumulative effect is considerable, as you start to manoeuvre through the monotony, eager to spot subtle difference, defining features, and socio-historical meaning. Very quickly, the eye starts to sort the images of East and West, not just through the makes of car (Trabant in the GDR, anything but in the West), but the architectural designs, people's clothes, even the image selection. Roads are straight, service stations, or Autobahn-Raststätten, severe (one stunning card reveals a particularly drab canteen with people sitting meekly at tables, despite all the food displays being closed), petrol filling stations abound, and the key word seems municipal. Even hotels, indulgers of weary flesh, resemble bunkers, or faceless public housing.

Arrayed as if in a family photograph album, the images recall a bygone age of post-war reconstruction, when the emphasis was on logistics: transport, accommodation, and a general, unfussy, symmetrical solidness, symbolised by bad design, and worse upholstery. It's both awful and awe-inspiring, this industrial sprawl and set-square architecture, the bleakly familiar caravan-lined coastline. There is also, presumably to the delight of the curator, a run-of-the-mill, mock-Alpine gasthaus named Hotel Parr. And yet, this is life, as rich in its resurgent functionality as Gaudi's flamboyance. Best enjoyed with a tepid flute of Liebfraumilch, and Kraftwerk on the stereo. --David Vincent

Review

'Not to be missed: 160 views of Germany ... each more dreary than the next - and yet more comical. Langweillige Postkarten is not boring at all.' (Die Tageszeitung)

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By ricadus on 2 Nov 2001
This, the third book in the series, is perhaps the most successful. The previous books (of British and American postcards) seemed little more than typical 1950s and 60s retro-kitsch because they lacked the particular historical context that this book has, with its depiction of postwar German society in denial of its catastrophic Nazi past.
These postcard views have no grandiose classical architecture and few scenes that evoke a sentimentalized Germanic past. Instead what we are shown is a calm, clean world of (then) ultra-modern social housing and road networks, of safety and prosperity. All traces of the old pre-war Germany are absent, save for the occasional church spire peeping modestly over the tops of newly constructed facades.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 2 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Irresistible little gem of a book! 7 April 2003
By Jill Bredal - Published on Amazon.com
There is something addictive about this little book, filled with seemingly dull, commercial postcards from Germany. The heft and compact size of it make you want to pick it up again and again and dream about the modern Europe of the 60's and 70's. No words get in the way. The images are of autobahns, health spas, restaurants, apartment buildings...and the overall effect of seeing these tidy, newly built spaces--without people--is somehow poignant, hopeful, serene and surreal. Often, geometric shapes dominate a landscape or visual field, and the postcard becomes a reduced, abstract scene which may or may not have been photographed on earth. "Boring" postcards is strangely fascinating!
6 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Is this the best book I have ever read? 15 July 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Yes, this is the best book I have ever read.
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