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Martin Parr 'The Non-Conformists' on TIME LightBox

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We are pleased to announce that we will be showing selections from 'The Non-Conformists' at Paris Photo this year. We hope you can join us and see this fantastic work in person! Not going to be in Paris? Visit TIME LightBox to view some a slideshow of selected works from this series. To purchase a copy of The Non-Conformists, click here.

“In the 70s, in Britain, if you were going to do serious photography, you were obliged to work in black-and-white,” master photographer Martin Parr tells TIME. “Color was the palette of commercial photography and snapshot photography.”

“It’s only late in the decade that we began to see color photographers being shown in museums — like Eggleston and Stephen Shore,” he adds. “I took note of that and got excited.”

A few years later, in 1982, Parr made the switch from monochrome and never went back. To the many fans who have come to know his work over the last three decades in color, it may come as a surprise encountering Parr’s first major project in black-and-white. The Non-Conformists finally finds closure over 35 years after it was started with the publication this month of his latest monograph from Aperture.

It was 1975, and two years out of art school, Parr moved from the gritty, bustling city of Manchester to a picturesque mill town in the English countryside called Hebden Bridge. There, he found a traditional way of life in decline. Factories were closing, industry was leaving and the town was gentrifying. A new community was emerging made up of  “incomers — youthful artistic refugees… in search of alternative lifestyles and cheap housing,” Parr’s wife Susie writes in her introduction to the book.

With four other artists, he opened up a storefront workshop and darkroom in the middle of town. Equipped with a Leica and a single lens, he took to the streets and began one of his earliest extended photographic studies.

“Places change all the time and the type of people who live there change. I was not so much looking at the new incomers,” of which he was a part, “but at the traditional lifestyle there.”

He would wander around, attend events listed in the local paper, and on Sundays, go to services at the Non-Conformist churches which were all over town. In these chapels, which had historically distanced themselves from the rules of the Church of England, he and his wife, who had been working on an accompanying text for his pictures, found the focus for the body of work.

“There’s a certain independent spirit these Non-Conformists have, which not only gave the chapels their names,” — like the Mount Zion Strict and Particular Baptist Chapel — “but was also very emblematic of the fading attitude of the whole place,” he says.

Parr’s photographs in which he aimed to capture that attitude reveal a greatly skilled young documentary photographer with a keen eye for British quirk, anticipating the tremendously poignant sense of humor for which he has become known. There is great wit in these images, but it’s more subtle and less sardonic than his later saturated color work; it seems above all, affectionate.

“Black-and-white is certainly more nostalgic, by nature,” he says. “My black-and-white work is more of a celebration and the color work became more of a critique of society.”

Parr and his wife, whom he had married in Hebden Bridge, became very active in the community during their documentation, if at first only to gain trust and access. Some church members mistook their interest as one in keeping the chapel life going in the future.  The documentation came to an end, however, and the Parrs moved on. By the late 90s, most of the chapels had closed and the communities disappeared. Hebden Bridge today, “sandblasted and quaint,” his wife writes, “is a lesbian stronghold and a lively commuter town to professionals working in Leeds, Bradford and Manchester.”

“We did this photographic documentation and that’s all that’s left,” Parr says. “Virtually everyone in the photographs is dead now. It was just another era. But that’s the great thing about photographs; they’re there forever.”


Martin Parr is a British documentary photographer, photojournalist and photobook collector. The Non-Conformists is available through Aperture from October 2013. The work will also be on view at Media Space in London through March 16, 2014. Read more: http://lightbox.time.com/2013/10/21/the-non-conformists-martin-parrs-early-work-in-black-and-white/#ixzz2iUBJNHSX

Bill Bush for Artweek.LA : Los Angeles Then and Now

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Bruce Davidson: 1964 / 2012 | Bruce Davidson first came to Los Angeles in 1964 on assignment for Esquire magazine. As a young New Yorker in L.A., he found himself at odds with what he described as a "cultural desert with acrid air, bumper-to-bumper traffic, tall palms, and seedy Hollywood types." Davidson approached this foreign landscape with the sardonic eye of an outsider looking in. The resulting images, shot with a 35mm camera, play with archetypes and stereotypes of the city with a quick and clever irony: bodybuilders and starlets; sunbathers and signwavers; the similarly glimmering cars and glistening surf of a beach parking lot; desperate hopefuls walking the streets in search of something more.

Nearly 45 years after Davidson first visited Los Angeles, he returned to the city with a vastly different shooting agenda. The crowded and buzzing social landscape of 1964 now serves as a distant backdrop for the quiet integrity of Davidson's clawed up yuccas, attenuated palms, and parched hillsides. This exhibition marries two series, the wry and the romantic, to present a multifaceted portrait of our city.

Bruce Davidson: 1964 / 2012 closes September 21 at RoseGallery

For the most comprehensive calendar of art events throughout Los Angeles go to Artweek.LA.

Bruce Davidson Interviewed on NPR All Things Considered

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This weekend, the Rose Gallery at Bergamot Station celebrates photographer Bruce Davidson, who celebrated his 80th birthday yesterday by stopping by our studios.

Perhaps best known for his work covering the Civil Rights era, Davidson said he likes to immerse himself in things he knows nothing about–and, to revisit subjects over time.  The focus of this particular gallery show is Los Angeles, where Davidson was sent nearly 50 years ago on assignment for Esquire magazine. His take on the city now, he says, is completely different.

We talked to Davidson about the spiritual nature of the March on Washington, how this long-time New Yorker changed his mind about LA, and how he is now delighting in chronicling the ordinary in his neighborhood on the Upper West side.     -Lisa Napoli

Click here to stream the podcast of Bruce's interview with Lisa Napoli on All Things Considered.

Paris Photo 2013 Agenda: Bruce Davidson Los Angeles 1964/2012

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Bruce Davidson first came to Los Angeles in 1964 on assignment for Esquire magazine. As a young New Yorker in LA, he found himself at odds with what he described as a “cultural desert with acrid air, bumper-to-bumper traffic, tall palms, and seedy Hollywood types.” Davidson approached this foreign landscape with the sardonic eye of an outsider looking in. The resulting images, shot with a 35mm camera, play with archetypes and stereotypes of the city with a quick and clever irony: bodybuilders and starlets; sunbathers and signwavers; the similarly glimmering cars and glistening surf of a beach parking lot; desperate hopefuls walking the streets in search of something more.

Nearly 45 years after Davidson first visited Los Angeles, he returned to the city with a vastly different shooting agenda. The crowded and buzzing social landscape of 1964 now serves as a distant backdrop for the quiet integrity of Davidson’s clawed up yuccas, attenuated palms, and parched hillsides. The Nature of LA looks at plant life and the politics of water in Los Angeles with a newfound compassion and patience. Using a 4x5 view camera on a tripod slows his photographic process and allows these contemplative images to take shape. The word nature’s dual meaning— both flora and fauna, and character or temperament—situates the work within a broader scope than straight photographic representation. The series speaks to man’s impact on the land and nature’s prevailing will. He writes, “hundreds of towering palm trees reach to the sky and give poetic posture to concrete freeways, tacky strip malls, and the endless grid of local streets.” No longer at odds with a foreign landscape, Davidson lets the “pockets of beauty” emerge from the so-called “cultural desert” of his youth.

In the intervening years between these bodies of work, the culture of Los Angeles has not changed significantly, but rather the artist’s experience of it. This exhibition marries the two series, the wry and the romantic, to present a multifaceted portrait of our city.

To view the Paris Photo Agenda post and see what other participants are up to, click here.