|Phaidon has recently published a new title of the popular photographer Martin Parr, one of Britain's most successful and prolific photographers. The essay by Sandra Phillips introduces us to his witty and controversial work, an affordable and accessible monograph with 56 images.
Well known for his pictures of holidaymakers and day-trippers, Martin Parr joined Magnum Photos in 1994:
"Magnum photographers were meant to go out as a crusade ... to places like famine and war and ... I went out and went round the corner to the local supermarket because this to me is the front line." (Martin Parr)
The work by Martin Parr - whether his pictures are focused in Britain or somewhere else in the world - has always provided unexpected criticism against the global asset of tourism, the reliance on passive entertainment and, by extension, a critical reflection on our passive mode of receiving information and our firewall against interpretation.
By default I am a travel photographer.
I work on a combination of commissions and personal projects that take me around the world.
But I am also a tourist photographer and, as such, I explore the ambiguity between mythology and reality through photography.
We are sold a very romantic vision of tourist destinations, but most of the images you see are propaganda.
You are being sold a cliche that you are conditioned to accept as reality.
In fact, the reality of that destination will be very different.
You'll find too many people, queues and tourists eager to perpetuate the myth that inspired them to travel in the first place.
New Brighton, Merseyside, from The Last Resort, 1983-86
'Endless hours of pleasure. This is Britain captured in all its bright brash bawdiness, but celebrated with an artistic sensibility that transforms tackiness into art.'
This new title is an affordable companion to his other Phaidon publications which include his retrospective, MARTIN PARR, THINK OF ENGLAND, BORING POSTCARDS, and THE PHOTOBOOK: A HISTORY, VOLUME I and VOLUME II. The book includes an introductory essay by Sandra S. Phillips, the highly-regarded curator of photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; assesses Parr's contribution to photography; and provides a witty, insightful analysis of the photographs. Sandra S. Phillips has been responsible for many major exhibitions including ‘William Klein New York 195455’ (1995) and ‘Police Pictures: The Photograph as Evidence’ (1997). She organized the first survey of the world of the important postwar Japanese photographer Daido Moriyama in 1999, presented the first complete showing of the photographs, prints and writings of Diane Arbus in 2003 and curated ‘Mexico as Muse: Edward Weston and Tina Modotti’ in 2006, to considerable acclaim.