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Martin Parr Paperback – 6 Apr 2004
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'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'
A comprehensive mid-career retrospective of the work of well-known Magnum photographer Martin Parr, including previously unpublished early work. This major retrospective is the first time that the whole of Parr's career has been seriously assessed and includes fascinating and previously unpublished early work. This includes his startling and original 1974 installation Home Sweet Home, early black-and-white photographs of the people and places of Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire where he lived and worked in the 1970s, photographs from Ireland and Salford, and of course a selection of the very best images from all of his published books including The Last Resort, The Cost of Living and Signs of the Times. With unlimited access to Parr's archives and quoting from extensive interviews, distinguished writer and curator Val Williams charts Parr's life and career, revealing insights into his influences and attitudes and setting him in a new context by assessing his importance as an artist. The book also includes fascinating illustrative photographs of Parr and the people and places of his career.In addition, a special appendix shows some of his many collections of ephemera from wallpaper to commemorative plates, lapel badges to souvenir models of Lenin and JFK. See all Product description
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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?
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.
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