Martin Parr Paperback – 6 Apr 2004
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One of the leading British photographers of his, or any, generation, Martin Parr presents a retrospective of Parr's 30-year career, a dynamic entirely appropriate to his wry, equivocal look at nostalgia and tradition. Suburban warrior from Surrey, he was one of the first to drag British photography from the realms of advertising, fashion or hobby to the pretensions of serious "art". A collector by nature, even a trainspotter, and inspired by picture postcards, as his superbly monotonous Boring Postcards series bear witness, this mildly obsessive characteristic is at the centre of his art, which through his books, exhibitions, television documentaries and most notably, his work for magazines and newspapers, is immediately recognisable, and influential, as Richard Billingham's Ray's a Laugh demonstrated. His themes are for the most part unwavering, yet ultimately, it's other people's taste that lights up his photographs.
Attracting critics as well as fans, including fellow Magnum member Henri Cartier-Bresson, who remains "highly suspicious" of Parr's photography, he has never flinched from his content, saying of it, "certainly my photographs have a critical bite to them. I knew I was middle-class ...". It is also something Val Williams is conscious of in her lively essays that accompany the image selections from his career, and which follow him from the North of England to Ireland, back to the Northwest, and then down to Bristol. From his early days taking snaps at Butlin's to his strongest projects such as The Last Resort, The Cost of Living and Think of England, he renders his subject curiously denuded, despite frequent heavy adornment. Of similar kitchen-sink, kitschy curiosity as Pulp explore in their so-English music, Parr is less concerned with the "ordinary" than with the life less ordinary, such as holidays or social occasions, at which we exhibit our most excruciating foibles. Interestingly, when he moves outside his native land, as with Small World, his pictures remain technically superb, but lose the intuitive third dimension which his engrossed Englishness provides when observing his own. Parr may divide the critics at times, but this tasty body of work argues persuasively for his provocative and accomplished take on life, snapped from the inside looking in. --David Vincent --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
'handsomely produced retrospect'
Times Literary Supplement
Evening Standard, 18 February 2002
'If you love Parr's work, this book is a must; if you can't see the point of it, Val Williams' excellent text may illuminate things'
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Top Customer Reviews
There are many who do not like Parr's style because at first glance it is invasive and uncomfortable, but it is precisely that which makes it so compelling. As an observer of modern life (especially British) he is without parallel, and this book will have much to offer everyone interested in photography and social documentary.
This thick, chunky title gives a good cross selection of Parr's work, from the superbly observed black and whites of working class life in the seventies and eighties to the capturing, in colour, of the middle classes in the nineties. I think Parr works best when he photographs the British and is able to see and capture social situations that most of us miss. There are twelve colour shots of street scenes in Boring, Oregon, (chosen, naturally, because of the town's name and Parr's three books, called Boring Postcards though these have no connection with the place) and they are just like any other photographers vernacular work, if Boring had been in England Parr would have found some class differences to make the photos say plenty.
Author Williams writes in depth about Martin Parr and his work and with several hundred photos this book is an excellent visual biography of one of the best British documentary photographers working today. BTW, the back of the book includes a few pages of Martin's collection of ephemera, knick-knackery that has taken his fancy, a tin of Heinz Barbie pasta shapes, a set of Russian coasters showing trucks or a set of Spice Girls chip packets and more, I have a similar collection of things that have caught my eye over the years, is this a trait of creative folk?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It's early Martin Parr, what else needs to be said except maybe "inspirational".Published 16 months ago by Col
This was a really helpful book for studying and referencing Parr's work. It is a comprehensive overview of Parr's work.Published on 29 Jan. 2014 by AColtman