This display brings together a selection of Parr’s documentary photographs and photobooks spanning 1983 to 2007. The British photographer has spent the past four decades exploring themes of class, leisure and consumer culture at home and abroad. Parr’s work illustrates his ongoing curiosity about our cultural peculiarities and the choices we make: what we buy, wear and eat, and where we go on holiday. ‘I’m a nosy person,’ Parr states, and ‘there’s no better way of finding out about something than going to photograph it.’
Parr is a collector as well as a photographer. His interests range from photobooks to souvenirs and memorabilia. For Parr ‘taking photographs is a form of collecting’. Each of his photographic series is a collection of faces, places and objects that reveals different aspects of his chosen subject.
In 2017 Tate acquired more than 12,000 of Parr’s photobooks. Collected over 35 years, these publications from around the world cover a broad range of subjects and types of photographic practice. This significant acquisition provides Tate with the opportunity to tell new stories about photography and its role in recording the culture and politics of its time.
Parr sees his role as a chronicler of our times. Whether photographing art fairs, fast food or British seaside towns he treats each setting with the same level of scrutiny. Parr photographs his subjects close-up and in lurid colour. ‘My job,’ Parr claims, ‘is to exaggerate reality’. The resulting images are at once seductive and grotesque, familiar and strange.
Curated by Sarah Allen
The Martin Parr photobook collection was part gifted by Martin Parr, and part acquired by Tate thanks to the generous support of the LUMA Foundation and with assistance from Tate Members, Art Fund, Tate Americas Foundation, Tate Photography Acquisitions Committee, Tate Latin American Acquisitions Committee, Tate Asia Pacific Acquisitions Committee, Tate Russia and Eastern Europe Acquisitions Committee and Tate Middle East and North Africa Acquisitions Committee.