Gregory Crewdson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Gregory Crewdson
Gregory Crewdson 2.jpg
Crewdson on location in Pittsfield, MA July 25, 2007
Born (1962-09-26) September 26, 1962 (age 57)
Brooklyn, New York
EducationBrooklyn Friends; John Dewey High School; SUNY Purchase, BA, 1985; Yale University, MFA, 1988
OccupationFine-art photographer, landscape photographer, professor
EmployerYale University School of Art
AgentGagosian Gallery
StyleAmerican realist landscape photography
Home townPark Slope, Brooklyn
Board member ofMASS MoCA
AwardsSkowhegan Medal for Photography, National Endowment for the Arts Visual Artists Fellowship

Gregory Crewdson (born September 26, 1962) is an American photographer.[1] He photographs tableaux[2] of American homes and neighborhoods.

Life and career[edit]

Crewdson in 2007

Crewdson was born in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. He attended John Dewey High School, graduating early.

As a teenager, he was part of a punk rock group called The Speedies that hit the New York scene. Their song, "Let Me Take Your Photo" proved to be prophetic to Crewdson's future career. In 2005, Hewlett Packard used the song in advertisements to promote its digital cameras.

At Purchase College, State University of New York, he began experimenting with photography, not yet taking it seriously, Crewdson only saw it as a creative outlet and hobby. Gaining school recognition and a growing interest for art, he graduated undergraduate from SUNY Purchase and later attended Yale University receiving his Master of Fine Arts. His senior thesis embodied everyday life through portraiture of Lee, Massachusetts residents, the same location that later inspired his first series Natural Wonder from 1992 to 1997. He has taught at Sarah Lawrence, Cooper Union, Vassar College, and Yale University, where he has been on the faculty since 1993. He is now a professor at the Yale University School of Art.[3][4] In 2012, he was the subject of the feature documentary film Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters.[5] The film series followed the construction and the behind-the-scenes explanation from Crewdson himself of his thought process and vision for his pieces of his collection Beneath the Roses.

Crewdson is represented by Gagosian Gallery worldwide and by White Cube Gallery in London.[6]

Crewdson has been awarded the Skowhegan Medal for Photography[citation needed] and The National Endowment for the Arts Visual Artists Fellowship[citation needed] in recognition of his work along with featured showings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Brooklyn Museum[citation needed].


Untitled photo from Crewdson's series Beneath the Roses (2003–2005)

Crewdson's photographs usually take place in small-town America, but are dramatic and cinematic.[7] They feature often disturbing, surreal events. His photographs are elaborately staged and lit using crews familiar with motion picture production and lighting large scenes using motion picture film equipment and techniques.[8] He has cited the films Vertigo, The Night of the Hunter, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Blue Velvet, and Safe as having influenced his style,[9] as well as the painter Edward Hopper[10] and photographer Diane Arbus.[11]

Crewdson's photography became a convoluted mix between his formal photography education and his experimentation with the ethereal perspective of life and death, a transcending mix of lively pigmentation and morbid details within a traditional suburbia setting. Crewdson was unknowingly in the making of the Pleasures and Terrors of Domestic Comfort exhibition of the Museum of Modern Art, earning him a following both from his previous educators and what would become his future agents and promoters of his work. The grotesque yet beautifully created scenes were just the beginning of Crewdson's work, all affected with the same narrative mystery he was so inspired by in his childhood and keen eye for the surreal within the regular. Fireflies, has become a standout amongst his collections known for their heightened emotion and drama compared to its simplicity of color and spontaneity. the exploration of form within his own work was evident within his transformation of how the photo was taken rather than just focusing on the subject.

The creation of the self defined American realist landscape photographer and his peculiar style originates from Crewdson's long appreciation for 20th century melodramas and literature, specifically Hitchcock and Ralph Waldo Emerson[citation needed]. These films drove Crewdson to challenge the essence of light and force it in a new direction in Twilight, a dramatic, highly pigmented collection of images that channel dusk to the subject of the photograph. Crewdson wanted to focus even more heavily on the suburban lifestyle that is the focus of his main movie inspirations. Known for their methodical yet rhythmic use of language[citation needed], Hitchcock and Emerson developed a new challenge for Crewdson by changing language to visuals in the most effective way. The look of sadness and contemplation on the subjects faces was something most major galleries had never seen, intentional sadness yet in such a bland and unexpected way. Similarly, Dream House captures the same "moment between moment" of thought from the subject from creative angles and cryptic perspectives[citation needed].

Gregory Crewdson's most recognized and iconic collection is Beneath the Roses[citation needed], similar to his previous projects, its haunted urgency and profound dislocation from the audience is uncomfortable yet familiar. Branching off of his previous collections, Beneath the Roses was aimed to capture cinematic production in the stillness of one picture[citation needed]. With a budget similar to that of a small movie production[citation needed], each image involved hundreds of people and weeks to months of planning[citation needed]. Crewdson's interventions into the streets of typical American suburbia became a nuance interpretation of reality of lifestyle focusing on the most dramatic emotions and complex moments of silence and thought for the subject[citation needed].

Crewdson explored the idea of challenging tradition with experimentation of his title outside of the U.S. at the abandoned Cinecittá studios outside of Rome[citation needed]. Known for its mysterious stillness and emptied character[citation needed], the set was new to Crewdson's typical use of subject and storyline but reflected the same balance and organic nature of a created set turned into an art piece. The simplicity of Sanctuary’s development contrasts Gregory's tendency for detail and specificity evoking a more compelling landscape that was already created for him and caught the attention of White Cube, Crewdson's European agent in London. By converting these cinematic scenes into ordinary life, he explores a new and unfamiliar genre of his own focused on naturalizing a manmade scenario in a world already based on the artifice of American lifestyles[citation needed].

After years of exploring the idea of cinematic photography, Sanctuary was Crewdson's return to photography, his original hobby and technical training. Most recently, Crewdson has created Cathedral of the Pines, similar to Beneath the Roses and Twilight, a distanced interpretation of exaggerated drama by an intervention into natural in its most synergetic state[citation needed]. The collection was shown at Gagosian Gallery in New York City[citation needed]. The collection returns to his early photographic origins in Becket, Massachusetts set deep in the woods far from familiarity of subject and setting[citation needed].



  • Hover. Artspace Books, 1995. ISBN 1891273000.
  • Twilight: Photographs by Gregory Crewdson. Harry N. Abrams, 2003. ISBN 0810910039. With an essay by Rick Moody.
  • Gregory Crewdson: 1985–2005. Hatje Cantz, 2005. ISBN 377571622X.
  • Gregory Crewdson: Fireflies. Skarstedt Fine Art, 2007. ISBN 0970909055.
  • Beneath the Roses. With Russell Banks. Harry N. Abrams, 2008. ISBN 978-0810993808.
  • Sanctuary. With Anthony O. Scott. Hatje Cantz, 2010. ISBN 978-3775727341.
  • In a Lonely Place. Hatje Cantz, 2011. ISBN 978-3775731362.
  • Gregory Crewdson. New York: Rizzoli, 2013. ISBN 978-0847840915.
  • Cathedral of the Pines. New York: Aperture, 2016. ISBN 978-1-597113-50-2. With a text by Alexander Nemerov.


  1. ^ O'Hagan, Sean (June 20, 2017). "Cue mist! Gregory Crewdson, the photographer with a cast, a crew and a movie-sized budget". The Guardian. London. Retrieved June 30, 2017.
  2. ^ Campany, David (2008). Photography and cinema. Reaktion Books. pp. 140–. ISBN 978-1-86189-351-2.
  3. ^ Gregory Crewdson Biography. Retrieved November 17, 2011.
  4. ^ Yale University School of Art: Gregory Crewdson. Retrieved November 17, 2011.
  5. ^ Shapiro, Ben. "Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters, official site". Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters official site. Ben Shapiro Productions. Retrieved February 13, 2012.
  6. ^ Warren, Lynne (ed.) (2005). Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century Photography. Routledge. ISBN 1-57958-393-8.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  7. ^ Kitamura, Katie. "Gregory Crewdson". frieze. Archived from the original on May 14, 2011. Retrieved March 19, 2011.
  8. ^ "Gregory Crewdson". V&A. Archived from the original on April 16, 2010. Retrieved March 19, 2011.
  9. ^ "Five in Focus: Gregory Crewdson's Five Favorite Films". Focus Features. Archived from the original on April 18, 2011. Retrieved March 19, 2011.
  10. ^ Gregory, Crewdson. "Aesthetics of Alienation". Tate Etc. Archived from the original on June 8, 2011. Retrieved March 19, 2011.
  11. ^ "Gregory Crewdson". White Cube. Retrieved March 19, 2011.
  12. ^ ""Gregory Crewdson: In a Lonely Place" at Det Kongelige bibliotek". Archived from the original on December 19, 2011. Retrieved December 28, 2011.
  13. ^ ""Gregory Crewdson: In a Lonely Place" at C/O Berlin". Retrieved August 23, 2011.
  14. ^ "Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines". Gagosian Gallery.
  15. ^ "Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines". The Photographers' Gallery.