In a career spanning over four decades and more than 40 photobooks, photographer Martin Parr is best known for his use of highly saturated color, and his characteristic wry humor and eye for well-composed, dynamic composition. In his new book – Martin Parr – Early Works – all that is there, just with the color stripped from the images. What remains are 47 exquisite black and white images created between 1970 and 1984, including more than 20 previously unseen photographs. He explores the same themes you’ve come to know fascinate him: class, consumer culture and leisure. And his gaze, while anthropological is most definitely, has his usual satirical slant. Yet the black and white gives them a subtle nostalgic tinge that his color images don’t.
The book contains many of Parr’s familiar early images from his series The Non Conformists, Bad Weather and A Fair Day. The Non Conformists, Parr’s first major body of work was shot between 1975 – 1979 and demonstrates an already formed wry sense of humor as Parr documented the town of Hebden Bridge showing traditional life in decline. Bad Weather was Parr’s first monograph and acted as a survey of people of the UK and Ireland going about their lives in typically inclement weather. In A Fair Day, Parr captured life in Ireland of the early 1980s from abandoned Morris Minors to rural dance halls and newly build bungalows to provide a view of a society caught between the past and the 20th century.
While the backdrop is mostly British – the book also includes Parr’s lesser-known photographs taken in India and China in the mid-1980s, some of these previously unpublished, alongside other unseen works from this period shot across the British Isles.
In 1994 he became a member of Magnum Photos and was president of the collective from 2013 to 2017. In 2017, Parr opened the Martin Parr Foundation, a new centre for British photography in Bristol. The aim of the Foundation is to support and promote photography from the British Isles. It does so by preserving the archive of his work, and by holding a growing collection of works by selected British and Irish photographers as well as images taken in the British Isles by international photographers. The Foundation also houses an expanding library of British and Irish photographic books.