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Martin Parr

Martin Parr (b. 1952, Surrey, UK) became interested in photography as a young boy,  and was encouraged by his grandfather George Parr, a keen amateur photographer. Parr went on to study photography at Manchester Polytechnic from 1970 to 1973.

Since that time, the artist has developed an international reputation for his oblique approach to social documentary and input to photographic culture in the UK and abroad. In 1994 he became a full member of Magnum.

Parr started to explore different conventions, such as fashion and advertising, as well as film-making. In 2002 the Barbican Art Gallery and the National Media Museum initiated a large retrospective of Martin Parr’s work. This show toured Europe for the next five years.

Parr was Professor of Photography at the University of Wales Newport campus from 2004 to 2012. He was Guest Artistic Director for Rencontres D’Arles in 2004. In 2006 he was awarded the Erich Salomon Prize and the resulting Assorted Cocktail show opened at Photokina. In 2008 Parr was guest curator at New York Photo Festival, curating the New Typologies exhibition.

Parrworld opened at Haus de Kunst, Munich, in 2008. This exhibition included Parr’s own collection of objects, postcards, British and international photography and photo books, alongside his own work. The exhibition toured Europe for the following two years. At PHotoEspaña 2008, Parr won the Baume et Mercier award in recognition of his professional career and contributions to contemporary photography. He curated the Brighton Photo Biennial in 2010.

In 2013, Parr was appointed visiting Professor of Photography at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland. In 2016 Aperture published The Chinese Photobook: From the 1900s to the Present, co-edited by Parr. The artist has published over 80 books of his own work and edited a further 30.

‘Most people are quite comfortable in their little niche, and do not play with boundaries. Good for them, but I think a photographic community should have more ambition. It’s our job, if you like, to make photography more accessible and to expand the audience.’

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Related exhibitions & events

Modern Nature: British Photographs from the Hyman Collection

13 Jul 2018 - 22 Apr 2019

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The Rhubarb Triangle And Other Stories: Photographs By Martin Parr

04 Feb - 12 Jun 2016

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Further Reading