Middlebury College Museum of Art


Life’s a Beach

May 23–August 10, 2014

This exhibition features 53 photographs by British photographer Martin Parr and provides both broad views and close-ups of sunbathers across 19 countries. The show was organized by Aperture, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing photography via Aperture magazine, books, traveling exhibitions, and educational programs.

Noted for the anthropological focus to his documentary style of photography, Parr captures unflinching images of his subjects in an honest if not always flattering light. His work is revealing, but far from harsh. The truth he chooses to capture with his camera shows a humorous glimpse into the quirky aspects of humanity. Life’s a Beach displays the tanned and sweaty side of life and provides an international look at sunbathers across the globe, from Argentina to Australia, Spain to Slovenia, China to Chile, and Italy to India to Indonesia.

Martin Parr, Margate, UK, 1986, gelatin silver print, 20 x 24.7 inches. © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos. Courtesy of the artist and the Aperture Foundation, New York.

Parr began his beach photography in the 1970s and published The Last Resort in 1986, a book of photography with an exclusive focus on British beachgoers at the New Brighton seaside resort. The photographer discovered that the eccentricities of his native British culture were vividly illustrated at the shore. His first beach book prompted him to travel internationally, photographing different beaches worldwide. Through his travels he concluded that the beach creates a unique venue for not just personal but also cultural expression across nations. As Parr describes it, “the beach is that rare public space in which all absurdities and quirky national behaviors can be found.”

Life’s a Beach illustrates these quirks and absurdities through the characteristically intimate images and brightly saturated colors of Parr’s photographs.The exhibitionwill be on view through Sunday, August 10.

logo for Aperture Foundation

This exhibition was organized by the Aperture Foundation, New York. Aperture, a not-for-profit foundation, connects the photo community with the most inspiring work, the sharpest ideas, and with each other—in print, in person and online.