The New Yorker


Jun 27, 2007

Martin Parr, the British photographer famous for color work that both relishes and skewers contemporary vulgarity, is ever so politely miffed that William Eggleston, Stephen Shore, Joel Meyerowitz, and other Americans tend to get all the credit for introducing color to the black-and-white world of art photography in the seventies. To counter this notion, Parr has organized “Colour Before Color,” a savvy, pointedly argumentative show at Hasted Hunt that rounds up six European photographers—Luigi Ghirri, Ed Van der Elsken, Carlos Pérez Siquier, Keld Helmer-Petersen, John Hinde, and Peter Mitchell—whose achievements in color have gone largely unnoticed. Excepting Helmer-Petersen’s enigmatic architectural details from the forties, the work here is roughly contemporaneous with that of the U.S. pioneers, but it’s much quirkier. Parr’s appetite for the vernacular finds vivid expression in photographs by his fellow-Brits Mitchell and Hinde, but his most exciting discovery is Siquier, from Spain, whose pictures of sunbathers echo Parr’s own satires in a gentler, more affectionate, and considerably sexier mode.