The gloriously weird chaos of family life

Go into any museum, and you’ll see portraits of family life through the ages, from the court scenes of the Renaissance to the drawing rooms of the Victorians to Norman Rockwell’s all-American tableaux. Now contemporary artist Julie Blackmon has captured a certain essence of modern domesticity with vibrant photographs — some highly stylized color concoctions, others very straight black-and-white naturalism — that portray a rambunctious familial chaos many of us will recognize.

Blackmon’s photos recall the work of the 17th-century Dutch masters, but the most interesting aren’t old-fashioned in the least. Just check out her recent portfolio “Domestic Vacations,” whose pictures update convention with gusto, from the surrealism of Playhouse, which could be a yoga instructor’s life as seen by Magritte, to Clippers, in which a little boy holding a pair of hedge clippers adds a hint of the sinister to an otherwise ordinary, cheerful setting.

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The gloriously weird chaos of family life