Saturday, February 16, 2013

Julie Blackmon

Through a complex process involving models, a highly staged set and carefully composed tableaux, Blackmon weaves intricate stories of the complexities of everyday life in large and busy households. Blackmon is one of the most exciting photographers working today.

As the oldest of nine children, Blackmon's work has always drawn inspiration from her familial life, her extended family playing the role of both model and muse. At the same time, her work looks far back into the history of art to the paintings of the Dutch Renaissance master Jan Steen, who was known for his carefully constructed scenes of domestic chaos. However, in this newest work, we see Blackmon taking a more contemporary approach by shifting her focus to the work of the French painter, Balthus. His paintings of street scenes include many figures who seem to exist each in their own worlds — often indifferent to what is going on around them. Like Blackmon's work, they are scenes in which time stands still, a moment of anticipation before the full story unfolds and reveals how these characters' lives may, or may not intertwine. Balthus's La Rue provides inspiration for Blackmon's image Homegrown Food, where a man in white carrying a wooden plank walks past another figure who looks cool, yet out of place leaning against a building smoking a cigarette. Both ignore the little girl holding a blue racket who runs into the scene to chase her red ball leaving us to imagine what might happen next.

From the New Yorker in December 2012:
Elaborately staged, frankly artificial photography has fallen out of fashion, but Blackmon is still having fun with the genre. Her antic, anecdotal tableaux take realism as a jumping-off point for various flights of fancy. Several pictures quote paintings, notably Balthus's dreamlike streetscapes, with their oddly isolated characters. One scenario takes place at a book club (its leggy members are reading "Fifty Shades of Grey"), but most revolve around large, unattended groups of children. In the most arresting of these, five kids and two toddlers stand on a dark lawn, basking in the glow of a small fire like fairy-tale figures in a Maxfield Parrish painting.

Book Club, 2012

Garage, 2012

Fire, 2012

Night Movie, 2011

Stock Tank, 2012

Sharpie, 2011

 Sharpie, 2011

Patio, 2010

Patio, 2010

Homegrown Food, 2012

Olive & Market Street, 2012

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