b. 1952, United Kingdom

Martin Parr Biography

Martin Parr is a British photographer whose insightful images of an array of fairly everyday human behaviour demonstrates an anthropological approach blended with a penchant for humour and satire. His work considers class, consumerism and globalisation in the wake of image torrent of the internet.

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While satire and social commentary can often be disparaging of both the wider issue and those involved in perpetuating it, Parr casts his figures in an unusually sweet light. For example, in his ‘The Last Resort’ portfolio, beachgoers are shown engaging in a number of activities and actions, such as buying ice cream or simply lying on the sand. And while there is certainly an air of unease in the works, the subjects are not made fun of, rather they act as a reflective device, one for the viewer to comprehensively visualise concepts that often become loaded terms. It is their collective behaviour that identifies the problems of globalisation and consumption, as well as their humanity.

Parr makes an effort to transcend the traditional divisions between photography, placing the same photos found in a publication or magazine in an art gallery and ‘high-art’ photography books. The socio/cultural context in which the work is presented does not affect the impact of the work, rather the coherent approach to presentation helps to ground his work, which observes modern societal practices, as thoroughly modern itself.

Martin Parr currently holds the position of professor of photography at Ulster University, Belfast. Studying photography at Manchester Polytechnic between 1970 and 1973, Parr became a full member of Magnum in 1994, and has since presented his work in the form of books, magazines, and zines. He has also exhibited his works in galleries and museums around the world, including The Cost of Living, exhibited at the Royal Photographic Society, Bath, 1989-90 and the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, 1990; Retrospective, Martin Parr Photographs 1971-2000, exhibited across several locations between 2002 and 2005, including the Barbican Arts Centre, London, 2002; the National Museum of Photography, Film, and Television, Bradford, 2002; Kunsthal, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 2003; National Museum of Photography, Copenhagen, 2003; and the Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris, 2005; Fashion Magazine, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Japan, 2007; ParrWorld, Haus der Kunst, Munich, 2008; Breda Design Museum, The Netherlands, 2008; Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris, 2009; and Baltic, Gateshead, England, 2009; The Last Resort, Moscow House of Photography, Russia, 2012; We Love Britain, Sprengel Museum, Hannover, Germany, 2014; and A Photographic Journey, Kunst Haus Wien, Vienna, Austria, 2016.

Parr has also been the recipient of several awards, including being made an honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, 2005, awarded the International Award from the Photographic Society of Japan, 2008, the Centenary Award from the Royal Photographic Society, and the Royal Academy Award for his Contribution to the Arts, 2016.

Martin Parr
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