Tate acquires Martin Parr photobooks collection

  • 11 September 2017

Tate has acquired Martin Parr's world-renowned collection of over 12,000 photobooks with support from Art Fund.

Martin Parr © Louis Little

Martin Parr


© Louis Little

Built up over 25 years, the collection covers an unprecedented range of subjects, geographies and types of photographic practice, including many of the most iconic volumes in the history of photography.

The 'photobook' is one of the most important ways that photographers present and share their work. Showing a number of images in a carefully selected order around a particular theme, these volumes are historical documents, communication tools, and works of art in their own right. Parr’s collection reflects the full scope of this medium, from exquisitely printed portfolios by renowned photographers like Hans Bellmer, Nobuyoshi Araki and Robert Frank, to self-published amateur work and mass-produced commercial books.

The acquisition of the collection marks a significant step forward in Tate’s ongoing commitment to photography. In recent years, photographs have become more fully integrated into displays and exhibitions across all Tate’s galleries, reflecting the medium’s ever more important role in contemporary artistic practices and international visual culture.

Stephen Deuchar, Director, Art Fund, said: 'Martin Parr is a pivotal figure in the world of photography and a greatly admired artist, so our trustees are really thrilled to be helping Tate acquire this unique and exceptionally important collection of photobooks, assembled across so many years and of such diverse origins. It’s a major acquisition which we think will help underpin Tate’s growing status as a centre for the study and enjoyment of world photography.'

The collection has been part gifted by Martin Parr and acquired by Tate with the generous support of the LUMA Foundation, with further contributions from Art Fund, Tate Americas Foundation, Tate Members, and Tate’s acquisition committees focused on photography, Asia Pacific, Russia and Eastern Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East and North Africa.

A changing selection of the books will be incorporated into displays and exhibitions at Tate’s galleries, while the collection as a whole will be catalogued and made available to the public through the reading room at Tate Britain.

Tags: Art we've helped buy