Photographer, collector, and Magnum member once derided as being "from another planet," Martin Parr releases a small portion of his mammoth collection in a two-volume set dedicated to postcards and other kitsch.

Book Digest Controversial British photographer and Magnum member Martin Parr, who was once derided by Magnum founder and photographic titan Henri Cartier-Bresson as “from another planet,” is also known as a collector and historian of photography books—he numbers his collection at around 7,000 volumes—hence the two volumes of The Photobook: A History, his survey (co-authored with Gerry Badger) of 400 standout titles. His collecting is not limited to books, echoing Walker Evans’s comment about being a collector and photographer—according to Evans, “They were almost the same thing,” or as Parr asserts: “It’s all about collecting sets of things, putting them together, and giving them new meaning. It’s like photography: You assemble sets of photographs and give them new meaning.” Hence Parrworld: Objects and Postcards (Aperture), a handsome, slip-cased, two-volume set, which runs 500 pages and exhibits more than 400 images. The first volume, Objects, contains a wide range of collectible memorabilia and ephemera: Saddam Hussein watches, Spice Girls tschotskes, tin trays, Sputnik toys, and assorted kitsch. Postcards reflects Parr’s impressive collection of postcards (numbering 20,000), which span the history of the form.

is introduced by Thomas Weski, who has curated a companion exhibition that debuted in Germany last spring and is reportedly traveling internationally. Parr has declared: “If people laugh and cry at the same time when looking at my pictures then it is exactly the reaction that the images provoke in me. Things are neither . . . good nor bad. I am always interested in showing both extremes.” So whatever your thoughts or knowledge of Martin Parr, the same facility that fires his photographic vision aids his curatorial skills and his point of view on collecting. Which makes these compilations more than interesting.
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