What I am interested in is that moment of transcendence, where one is transported into another place, into a perfect, still world.
Gregory Crewdson’s photographs have entered the American visual lexicon, taking their place alongside the paintings of Edward Hopper and the films of Alfred Hitchcock and David Lynch as indelible evocations of a silent psychological interzone between the everyday and the uncanny. Often working with a large team, Crewdson typically plans each image with meticulous attention to detail, orchestrating light, color, and production design to conjure dreamlike scenes infused with mystery and suspense. While the small-town settings of many of Crewdson’s images are broadly familiar, he is careful to avoid signifiers of identifiable sites and moments, establishing a world outside time.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Crewdson is a graduate of SUNY Purchase and the Yale University School of Art, where he is now director of graduate studies in photography. He lives and works in New York and Massachusetts. In a career spanning more than three decades, he has produced a succession of widely acclaimed bodies of work, from Natural Wonder (1992–97) to Cathedral of the Pines (2013–14). Beneath the Roses (2003–08), a series of pictures that took nearly ten years to complete—and which employed a crew of more than one hundred people—was the subject of the 2012 feature documentary Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters, by Ben Shapiro.
Crewdson’s emblematic series Twilight (1998–2002) ushers the viewer into a nocturnal arena of alienation and desire that is at once forbidding and darkly magnetic. In these lush photographs, the elements intervene unexpectedly and alarmingly into suburban domestic space. Crewdson’s psychological realism is tempered in these images by their heightened theatricality, while themes of memory and imagination, the banal and the fantastic, function in concert with a narrative of pain and redemption that runs through American history and its picturing.
Sanctuary (2009), Crewdson’s first series shot outside the United States, depicts empty film sets belonging to Cinecittà Studios on the outskirts of Rome. Described by the artist as a return to documentary photography, the series saw him retreat from many of his usual methods: he used a digital camera, made minimal alterations to his subject, and employed only natural light. Cathedral of the Pines, which was first exhibited at Gagosian in New York in 2016, depicts unnamed figures situated in the forests around the town of Becket, Massachusetts. In scenes that evoke nineteenth-century American and European history paintings, the works’ subjects appear traumatized by mysterious events or suspended in a fugue state. Working with a small crew to maintain an intimate and immediate atmosphere, the artist also used people close to him as models. But even once we know who “plays” the protagonists, their actions remain cryptic and their relationships unclear. “There are no answers here,” states the artist, “only questions.” The 2018–19 series An Eclipse of Moths is set amid down-at-heel postindustrial locations including an abandoned factory and a disused taxi depot. They serve as backdrops for Crewdson’s enigmatic dramas of decay and potential rebirth.
A survey of Crewdson’s work of the previous twenty years toured European museums from 2005 to 2008. The exhibition In a Lonely Place traveled to galleries and museums across Europe, Scandinavia, Australia, and New Zealand from 2011 to 2013, and a major monograph was published by Rizzoli in 2013. Crewdson’s awards include the Skowhegan Medal for Photography, a National Endowment for the Arts Visual Artists Fellowship, and the Aaron Siskind Foundation Fellowship.
Tuesday, October 20, 2020, 2pm EDT
Featuring Malcolm Gladwell, Elvis Mitchell, and Jeff Tweedy
For the second episode of Gagosian Premieres, we celebrate Gregory Crewdson: An Eclipse of Moths—a new exhibition at Gagosian, Los Angeles—with author Malcolm Gladwell, film critic Elvis Mitchell, musician and author Jeff Tweedy, and the artist.
While the episode is airing, Crewdson will answer questions on YouTube LiveChat and present a signed and numbered limited-edition book, published by Aperture, with a personal inscription to one viewer who participates in the conversation.
Extended through March 12, 2016
Cathedral of the Pines
January 28–March 12, 2016
West 21st Street, New York
Gregory Crewdson: An Eclipse of Moths
Gregory Crewdson discusses his new work with actor Cate Blanchett.
Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines
In his latest series of large-format color photographs, Cathedral of the Pines, Crewdson takes the viewer to the forests of Becket, Massachusetts—the locale of his earliest childhood memories and his home since 2011.
2021 Yale Photo Pop Up Lecture Series
The Yale Photo Pop Up Lecture Series has returned for a second year. The series was started in 2020 by Gregory Crewdson, director of graduate studies in photography at the Yale School of Art, as a response to the shift to online learning. The biweekly talks feature a wide range of guest speakers, including leading figures of contemporary film and photography, announced twenty-four hours in advance of the event. In each half-hour session, Crewdson asks the guest questions about artistic practice and the anticipation of an end to the pandemic crisis. The series is free and open to the public. Space is limited and will be granted on a first-come, first-served basis.
Still from “Yale Photo Pop Up Lecture Series presents Jeff Wall”
2020 Yale Photo Pop Up Lecture Series
Gregory Crewdson, director of graduate studies in photography at the Yale School of Art, is opening his 2020 MFA Photography Pop Up Lecture Series to the public while the Yale campus goes online, hosting twenty-eight question-and-answer sessions with leading figures of contemporary film and photography on Zoom. Featuring a wide range of guest speakers including William Eggleston, Spike Jonze, Tilda Swinton, and Kara Walker, the series opens up a conversation about how to find artistic inspiration in this moment of great change. To watch previous talks, visit www.art.yale.edu.
Still from “Yale Photo Pop Up Lecture Series: Tilda Swinton”
Namacheko and Gregory Crewdson
Belgian fashion label Namacheko is launching a new collection inspired by and featuring Gregory Crewdson’s photographs. The garments were shown for the first time at Namacheko’s Fall 2020 runway show in January at Espace Niemeyer, the French Communist Party headquarters in Paris, designed by Oscar Niemeyer. The clothing will be available later this year at select retailers, including the Gagosian Shop.
Dress from Namacheko’s Autumn/Winter 2020 collection featuring an image from Gregory Crewdson’s Hover series
Through November 28, 2021
This exhibition centers on the reimagining of iconography in American photography after 1945, when exaggeratedly idealized landscapes were replaced by everyday imagery that had previously been considered unworthy of portrayal. Some photographers captured the dynamic of big cities through a spontaneous pictorial language that often portrayed American society in a critical light. And, in a contrasting approach, others staged elaborate cinematic tableaux that grappled with photographic reality and illusion as well as with societal developments. Work by Richard Avedon and Gregory Crewdson is included.
Gregory Crewdson, Untitled, 1998–2002 © Gregory Crewdson
Gregory Crewdson in
The Expanded Landscape
June 29–October 10, 2021
Getty Center, Los Angeles
The contemporary photographers in this exhibition create large-scale works that expand our understanding of what landscape photography can be, favoring graphically abstract compositions, elevated vantage points that eliminate the horizon, experimental techniques, or personal relationships with a specific landscape. Work by Gregory Crewdson is included.
Gregory Crewdson, Untitled, 2007 © Gregory Crewdson
June 25–September 20, 2021
The Church, Sag Harbor, New York
Road Rage brings together works by twenty-four artists who use the car as subject or material. Dating from the 1960s to the present, the paintings, photographs, sculptures, drawings, and animated film on display consider automobiles as tools of travel, consumption, and commerce, and as icons of wealth, class, leisure, power, destruction, and pollution. Work by Gregory Crewdson and Richard Prince is included.
Gregory Crewdson, Back Lot, 2018–19 © Gregory Crewdson
June 12–July 18, 2021
Berkshire Botanical Garden, Stockbridge, Massachusetts
In 1996, Gregory Crewdson spent a summer photographing fireflies each evening at his family’s cabin in the Berkshires. While the resulting body of work was a departure from his elaborately staged large-scale cinematic pictures, Fireflies speaks to the most elemental features of photography itself: beauty and meaning derived through light. Twenty-five years later, a selection of these small-scale black-and-white images have returned to the Berkshires, on display in a specially darkened exhibition space at the Botanical Garden.
Gregory Crewdson, Untitled, 1996 © Gregory Crewdson