Martin Parr

British, b. 1952

Martin Parr was born in Epsom, Surrey. As a boy, his interest in photography was encouraged by his grandfather George Parr, himself a keen amateur photographer.

Parr studied photography at Manchester Polytechnic from 1970 to 1973. To support his career as a freelance photographer, he took on various teaching assignments between 1975 and the early 1990s. At the beginning of the 1980s his work aimed to mirror the lifestyle of ordinary British people, reflecting the social decline and distress of the working class during the era of Margaret Thatcher. He earned an international reputation for his oblique approach to social documentary, and for innovative imagery. In 1994 he became a member of Magnum after much heated debate over his provocative photographic style.

For Parr, the moral atrophy and preposterousness of our daily lives means we can only find salvation through adopting a certain sense of humor. The banality, boredom and lack of meaning of modern times are portrayed in works such as Bored Couples and Common Sense.

In 2002 Phaidon published the monograph Martin Parr. A large retrospective of Parr's work was initiated by the Barbican Art Gallery in London, and has since been shown in the Museo Nacional de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris and the Deichtorhallen in Hamburg.

Parr was appointed Professor of Photography in 2004 at the University of Wales, and was Guest Artistic Director for Rencontres d'Arles in the same year. In recent years, he has developed an interest in film-making, and has started to use his photography in different contexts, such as fashion and advertising.


1970/73  Photography, Manchester Polytechnic, Manchester, UK


1975       Arts Council of Great Britain Photography Award


2002/04  Photographic Works 1971-2000 – Barbican Art Gallery, London, UK; Museo 
              Nacional de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain; Maison Européenne de la 
              Photographie, Paris, France; Kunsthal, Rotterdam, Netherlands; National 
              Museum of Photography, Copenhagen, Denmark; National Museum of 
              Photography, Film and Television, Bradford, UK; Deichtorhallen, Hamburg, 
1995/04  Small World – Explorafoto, Salamanca, Spain; Photographic Festival, 
              Skopelos, Greece; Chapelle de l’Ancien Carmel de Tarbes, France; Maison de 
              la Culture d’Amiens, France; The Photographers' Gallery, London, UK
2000       Autoportrait & Flowers – Galerie du Jour, Paris, France
2000       Think of England – Rocket Gallery, London, UK
1999       Food, Design for Living – Kevin Hall Gallery, Glasgow, UK
1999       Common Sense – Amsterdam Centrum voor Photography, Amsterdam, 
              Netherlands; Australian Center for Photography, Paddington, Australia; 
              Rocket gallery, London, UK; Glasgow Film and Video Workshop, Glasgow, UK; 
              The Photography Gallery, Dublin, Ireland;, Köln, Germany; 
              Galerie du Jour, Paris, France; Tetra Gallery House of Photography, Poprad, 
1998       Japanese Computers – Galerie du Jour, Paris, France
1995       Small World/From A to B – Centre National de la Photographie, Paris,
1994       From A to B - 27 Welcome Break Service Stations, UK  
1993       A Year in the Life of Chew Stoke - Village Hall, Bristol, UK  
1993       Bored Couples - Galerie du Jour, Paris; subsequent tour 
1993       Home and Abroad - Watershed Gallery, Bristol , UK
1992       Signs of the Times - Janet Borden, New York, USA
1989       The Cost of Living - Royal Photographic Society, Bath, UK
1987       Spending Time - Centre National de la Photographie, Paris, France
1986       The Point of Sale - Salford City Art Gallery, Manchester, UK
1986       The Last Resort - Serpentine Gallery, London, UK
1984       A Fair Day - Orchard Gallery, Derry, Northern Ireland
1982       Bad Weather – The Photographers' Gallery, London, UK                                                  
1981       The Non-Conformist - Camerawork, London, UK       
1976       Beauty Spots - Impressions Gallery, York, UK     
1974       Home Sweet Home - Impressions Gallery, York, UK   
1972       Butlins By the Sea - Impressions Gallery, York, UK


 Getty Museum, Malibu, Ca, USA
 Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, UK
 Kodak, France
 Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany
 Seagram’s Collection, New York, USA
 Museum of Modern Art, Tempere, Finland
 British Council, London, UK
 Irish Arts Council, Dublin, Ireland
 Australian National Gallery, Canberra, Australia
 Paris Audiovisual, Paris, France
 Sprengel Museum, Hanover, Germany
 Yokohama Museum of Art, Japan
 Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Japan
 San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, USA
 Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands
 Tate Modern, London, UK
 Arts Council of Great Britain, UK
 Union Bank of Finland, Helsinki, Finland
 Museum for Fotokunst, Odense, Denmark
 Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK
 George Eastman House, Rochester, NY, USA
 Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, France
 Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York, USA
 Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, USA
 Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Japan
 Calderdale Council, Halifax, UK


2006       The Photobook : A History, Vol II (with Gerry Badger), Phaidon, UK
2006       Signes des temps, Textuel, France
2005       Fashion Magazine, Magnum Photos, France
2005       Martin Parr vu par..., Point de Vues, France
2004       The Photobook : A History, Vol I (with Gerry Badger), Phaidon, UK;
              (Le Livre de photographies : Une Histoire, Vol I) Phaidon, France
2002       Martin Parr, Phaidon, UK; Phaidon, France 
2000       Think of England, Phaidon, UK
2000       Martin Parr: Autoportrait, Dewi Lewis Publishing, UK 
1999       Common Sense, Dewi Lewis Publishing, UK 
1999/01  Boring Postcards, Phaidon, UK; (Langweilige Postkarten) Germany
1999       Sguardi Gardesoni, Chartra, Italy
1999       Flowers, Browns and Trebruk, UK
1995       Small World, Dewi Lewis Publishing, UK
1994       From A to B, BBC Books, UK
1993       Home and Abroad, Jonathan Cape, UK
1992       Sign of the Times, Cornerhouse, UK
1992       Bored Couples, Galerie du Jour, France
1989       The Cost of Living, Cornerhouse, UK
1986/98  The Last Resort, Promenade Press, UK/Dewi Lewis Publishing, UK
1984       A Fair Day, Promenade Press, UK
1982       Bad Weather, Zwemmers, UK