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
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
Closing this Week
Gregory Crewdson in
The Light Fantastic
Through May 30, 2022
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas
In The Light Fantastic, works by twenty-seven artists from the nineteenth century to today are displayed alongside one another as a meditation on light—a form of energy that shapes how artists and viewers alike understand color, volume, and composition. In addition to considering works in painting, sculpture, printmaking, and photography, viewers have the opportunity to discover how local community members use light in their own art making and to consider how the lighting of the gallery affects perceptions of the exhibition. Work by Gregory Crewdson is included.
Gregory Crewdson, Untitled, 1998–2002 © Gregory Crewdson
Zeitgenössische Fotografie aus Kanada und den USA
Through June 26, 2022
Museum der Moderne Salzburg, Austria
This group exhibition, whose subtitle translates to Contemporary Photography from Canada and the USA, presents work by more than thirty North American artists spanning three generations whose photography is informed by our digital age—both through their employment of digital technologies and in terms of their engagement with the “flood of images” that defines visual culture of the twenty-first century. This exhibition has traveled from the Sprengel Museum Hannover, Germany. Work by Gregory Crewdson, Taryn Simon, and Jeff Wall is included.
Taryn Simon, Ronald Jones; Scene of the arrest, South Side, Chicago, Illinois; Served 8 years of a Death sentence for Murder and Rape, from the series The Innocents, 2002 © Taryn Simon
Photographing the Fantastic
Through September 2022
NSU Art Museum, Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Photographing the Fantastic explores photographs of magical moments, the uncanny, and the wondrous, drawn from the extensive photography collection of the NSU Art Museum, Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Work by Gregory Crewdson and Vera Lutter is included.
Gregory Crewdson, Untitled, 2001–02 © Gregory Crewdson
Selected Acquisitions of a Decade
November 20, 2021–April 3, 2022
The Broad, Los Angeles
Since Unveiling highlights artworks that have entered the Broad collection in the last decade, with some acquisitions completed as recently as this year. The fifty-seven works on view by twenty-nine artists represent many facets of contemporary art, from explorations of abstraction and figuration to examinations of place, identity, and narrative. Many works witness, critique, and interpret current events, speaking to politics and power structures. Work by Gregory Crewdson, Andreas Gursky, and Nathaniel Mary Quinn are included.
Nathaniel Mary Quinn, Pure Insecurity, 2019 © Nathaniel Mary Quinn