Robert Mann Gallery is pleased to present, Talent Show, an exhibition that draws from Julie Blackmon’s latest collection of theatrical photographs. There is a dreamlike quality to Blackmon’s imagery. Children live, play, grow bored, make up stories, act them out and play some more, as if unaware of the camera, while the artist devises a tableau of domestic entropy. Blackmon says,“I compare [my work] sometimes to fiction and literature; sometimes the greatest truth can come out of fiction.”
Drawing influence from her own family life, the Dutch master Jan Steen and French modernist painter, Balthus, Blackmon creates photographs that have an air of a past era — perhaps the 1950’s or '60s — yet her use of 21st-century iconography, such as a perfectly placed iPhone recording a makeshift Talent Show, tells us that they are quite contemporary. Blackmon sets her scenes in familiar environments like a backyard bathing session or a fixer upper house and sometimes with multiple competing narratives at once. She focuses on children and families that are imbued with personality, yet overtaken by the haphazardness of child-rearing despite all the best-laid plans.
Julie Blackmon lives and works in Springfield, Missouri. The artistʼs work is found in numerous museums and public collections including the George Eastman House; Nelson Atkins Museum of Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City; the Portland Art Museum; and the Musée Français de la Photographie in Bièvres, France. She was named American Photo's "Emerging Photographer of 2008" and one of PDN's "30 New and Emerging Photographers" in 2007, and has been the recipient of various awards including first prize from The Santa Fe Center for Photography in the Project Competition in 2006. Blackmon has had two monographs published, the first of which sold out, Domestic Vacations (Radius Books, 2008) and Homegrown (Radius Books co-published with Robert Mann Gallery, 2014).
The exhibition coincides with Julie Blackmon's Fever Dreams at Fotografiska New York, March 5 - May 3, 2020, organized by Grace Noh in collaboration with Robert Mann Gallery and the artist.
Fever Dreams presents a selection of photographs from Blackmon’s Homegrown series as well as more recent works. Her photographs are updated with a satirical, penetrating eye and Blackmon’s belief that artful fiction can capture the truth more memorably than the truth itself. “I deeply admire the photojournalism of Robert Frank, Diane Arbus and Garry Winogrand. But I am not practicing journalism, and I do not use my camera as those photographers did. I think of myself as a visual artist working in the medium of photography, and my assignment is to chart the fever dreams of American life.”