For her third monograph, Midwest Materials, Julie Blackmon has created a new body of work that sparkles with the wit, dark humor and irony for which the photographer has gained such renown. Finding insight and inspiration in the seeming monotony of her “generic American hometown” of Springfield, Missouri, Blackmon constructs a captivating, fictitious world that is both playful and menacing. “I think of myself as a visual artist working in the medium of photography,” Blackmon notes, “and my assignment is to chart the fever dreams of American life.” Midwest Materials follows Domestic Vacations (Radius Books, 2008) and Homegrown (Radius Books, 2014). Julie Blackmon (born 1966) pursued studies in art education and photography at Missouri State University. Her photographs are included in the permanent collections of the Cleveland Museum of Art; George Eastman House, Rochester, NY; Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art and Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Toledo Museum of Art; Portland Art Museum; Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; and numerous others. She is represented by Robert Mann Gallery, Haw Contemporary and Fahey Klein, among others. Blackmon lives and works in Springfield, Missouri.
Published by Radius Books. Foreword by Billy Collins. Interview by Reese Witherspoon.
Julie Blackmon has transfixed the contemporary art world with images of her children, nieces, nephews and friends (and their children). As the oldest of nine children herself, Blackmon has always been fascinated by family life, and her photographs are crammed with children and adults, everyday objects, toys and playthings. The subjects in the distance are often as fascinating as those highlighted in the foreground, and even the figures barely visible, hidden behind doors or windows, add a sometimes sinister, always intriguing element to the scene. Following the success of the bestselling volume Domestic Variations (2009), Homegrown shows how Blackmon's style has evolved, as she continues to capture the tensions between the harmony and disarray of domestic life. Though her photographs continue to be undeniably contemporary, references to classic painting and portraiture can be detected: the influence of seventeenth-century Dutch painter Jan Steen mixes with more contemporary figures, such as Balthus, Edward Gorey, Tim Burton and Federico Fellini. Included in this new volume are 45 works made from 2009-2014, along with an introduction by renowned poet Billy Collins and an interview by the actress Reese Witherspoon.
Julie Blackmon (born 1966) is a Missouri-based photographer who has amassed many honors since beginning her career just a few years ago. Her work has appeared in such publications as The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker and Vanity Fair, and can be found in the collections of the Kemper Museum of Art in Kansas City, the Toledo Museum of Art, the Portland Museum of Art in Oregon and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, among others.
Published by Radius Books. Interview by Alison Nordstrom.
The Dutch saying “a Jan Steen household” originated in the seventeenth century and has come to refer to a home in disarray, full of rowdy children and boisterous family gatherings. The paintings of Steen, along with those of other Dutch and Flemish genre painters, are the direct inspiration behind the layered domestic scenes of Julie Blackmon’s photographic work. Raised as the oldest of nine children, and the mother of three herself, Blackmon takes an approach to her work that is at once autobiographical and fictional. According to Anne Wilkes Tucker of The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Blackmon has “taken a subject that is ripe for cliché--mother photographing children--and through the subtle, digital manipulations, the use of color and highly graphic images, she’s given it humor and edge and taken the subject somewhere fresh.”