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.
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.
Yale Photo Pop Up Lecture Series
Gregory Crewdson, director of graduate studies in photography at the Yale School of Art, is opening his MFA Photography Pop Up Lecture Series to the public while the Yale campus goes online, hosting 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.
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
Talk and Screening
May 19–20, 2018
Festival of Disruption at Brooklyn Steel, New York
Gregory Crewdson will participate in the Festival of Disruption, curated by David Lynch. He will be giving a talk in conjunction with the screening of Gregory Crewdson: There but Not There, a short documentary released in 2017 that offers a rare glimpse into his casting and artistic process.
Film still from Gregory Crewdson: There but Not There (2017), directed by Juliane Hiam © Crewdson Studio
Gregory Crewdson in
Le mauvais œil
Through January 10, 2021
FRAC Auvergne, Clermont-Ferrand, France
Clément Cogitore’s 2018 film The Evil Eye lends this exhibition its title and, projected in the center of the museum, is also the show’s heart. Its soundtrack is broadcast in each of the institution’s rooms and accompanies the other works to create a sense of a whispered litany announcing the end of the world. Work by Gregory Crewdson is included.
Gregory Crewdson, Untitled (Long Clump of Beetles), 1992–97 © Gregory Crewdson
Kunst und Emotion
Through October 4, 2020
Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich
One hundred paintings, objects, and films from contemporary artists invite the viewer to intuitively approach art from an emotional perspective. What does art provoke in us? To what extent does our view of art depend on our personal experiences and memories? This exhibition seeks to encourage this direct dialogue between artwork and viewer in order to stimulate an intense emotional engagement. Work by Gregory Crewdson, Richard Prince, and Cindy Sherman is included.
Installation view, Feelings: Kunst und Emotion, Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, November 7, 2019–October 4, 2020. Artwork © Richard Prince
Photography’s Last Century
The Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee Collection
Through November 30, 2020
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
This exhibition celebrates the remarkable ascendancy of photography in the last century, and Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee’s promised gift of over sixty photographs in honor of the Met’s 150th anniversary in 2020. The collection is particularly notable for its breadth and depth of works by women artists, its sustained interest in the nude, and its focus on artists’ beginnings. Work by Gregory Crewdson, Andreas Gursky, Man Ray, Cindy Sherman, Andy Warhol, and Rachel Whiteread is included.
Gregory Crewdson, Untitled, 2005 © Gregory Crewdson
Andy Warhol bis Cindy Sherman
Amerikanische Kunst aus der Albertina
November 19, 2019–March 29, 2020
Schlossmuseum Linz, Austria
Europe’s view of America is influenced by images of the entertainment industry: from film and television to advertising and newspapers. No other nation has placed so much reliance upon the power and impact of pictures and symbols as the US. With more than two hundred works of American art from 1960 to the present day, this large-scale exhibition, whose title translates to Andy Warhol to Cindy Sherman: American Art from the Albertina Museum, aims to illustrate how much our perceptions of truth and reality, facts and fake news, owe to America’s visual culture. Work by Gregory Crewdson, Roy Lichtenstein, Cindy Sherman, Andy Warhol, and Tom Wesselmann is included.
Cindy Sherman, Untitled (#112), 2003 © Cindy Sherman