Martin Parr

Martin Parr (born 23 May 1952); British documentary photographer, photojournalist and photobook collector. Known for his photographic projects that ake an intimate, satirical and anthropological look at aspects of modern life, in particular documenting the social classes of England, and more broadly the wealth of the Western world.

Most fans of contemporary photography know Martin Parr for his high-saturation color photos that take a satirical, slightly off-kilter look at modern society. An avid collector, author, and curator, Parr has his hands in about 20 different projects at any one time.

"Colour Before Color," an exhibition of early 1970s European color photography, starts from the premise that the history of color photography is tilted too far in the direction of the Americans like William Eggleston, Stephen Shore, Joel Sternfeld and Joel Meyerowitz. While he concedes that these masters helped the medium gain acceptance in the art world, Parr argues that Europeans were producing color work before or contemporaneous with William Eggleston in the US.

"The purpose of the current exhibition is to demonstrate that an equally lively colour photography culture in Europe was operating both before and during the 70s," Parr writes in the introduction to the exhibition. "This work had been largely overlooked...."

Jörg Colberg, author of the Conscientious blog and an American Photo contributor, recently spoke with Parr about the upcoming show.

J. Colberg: Why did it take so long for colour photography to be accepted as an art form?

M. Parr: I guess because the museum/art world was rather dismissive of it. Although, as soon as colour was invented it was used for commercial purposes, and there were indeed some photographers who did their own work in it. It wasn't ever taken seriously. If you did serious photography, it had to be done in black....
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First Collected by

Hans Spooren


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