The World Photography Organisation has announced British documentary photographer Martin Parr as the recipient of its Outstanding Contribution to Photography title. Parr will collect his title at the 2017 Sony World Photography Awards ceremony held in London on Thursday 20 April.
To coincide with the award, a special exhibition will present a unique selection of images, books and film from Parr's career, shown as part of the 'Sony World Photography Awards & Martin Parr - 2017 Exhibition' at Somerset House in London from 21st April to 7th May.
With over 90 books of his own published, and another 30 edited, Martin Parr’s photographic legacy is already established, with his work collected by major museums including the Tate, the Pompidou and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He has also curated two photography festivals, Arles in 2004 and Brighton Biennial in 2010, and more recently the Barbican exhibition, ‘Strange and Familiar’. He has been a member of the Magnum agency since 1994 and is currently the President. In 2013 Parr was appointed the visiting professor of photography at the University of Ulster.
"Martin Parr's work has transcended all the usual boundaries of photography and shown that the medium is a hugely powerful means of communication,” says Scott Gray, CEO of the World Photography Organisation. “As an artist Parr has created a unique visual language that is deeply serious, but its inherent humour has ensured that his work has an almost global understanding."
Previous recipients of the Outstanding Contribution to Photography title include Mary Ellen Mark, Eve Arnold, Bruce Davidson and Elliott Erwitt.
“It is a great honour to receive the Outstanding Contribution to Photography title, especially knowing the illustrious previous recipients such as William Klein and William Eggleston” says Parr. “It is also very reassuring to see the World Photography Organisation and Sony’s continuing support for all aspects of contemporary photography, through this exhibition and this season of awards.”
To coincide with the awards, a specially curated exhibition of rarely seen black and white images from Martin Parr’s early career will be presented in three rooms at Somerset House, London, alongside some of his most talked about work, books and films. The rooms will begin with a selection of rarely seen images from Parr’s Abandoned Morris Minors series, shot in the West Coast of Ireland between 1980 and 1983. Original posters for the first exhibition of this work will also be on show. In will be contrasted with some of Parr’s best loved images that each focus on global tourism. Zelda Cheatie is curating the collection.
"As I have known Martin Parr's work from early days, I was keen to show his (mostly unknown) gentle black and white pictures from the West Coast of Ireland,” Cheatie says. “These photographs of abandoned Morris Minors show a real affection for the landscape of Ireland. There is no mockery here - definitely some characteristic humour and, dare I say this about Martin, some poetry too."
In addition, the photographer will give a public talk at the London School of Economics and Political Sciences (LSE) on Friday 21 April. Tickets are on sale now at https://www.worldphoto.org/2017exhibition