REVIEW: Crewdson’s ‘Cathedral of the Pines’ opens at Gagosian GalleryMore Info
New York — On the evening of Thursday, January 28, 3,000 fans of Berkshire photographer Gregory Crewdson packed the Gagosian Gallery on West 21st St. in Manhattan for the opening reception of Crewdson’s new series of photographs, “Cathedral of the Pines.” The images were taken in and around the rural town of Becket, Massachusetts, and the subjects include several Berkshire residents. These 31 digital pigment prints are stunning to behold, both technically and conceptually.
Crewdson has long been famous for his surreal, emotionally fraught tableaus of small-town America. Each shot is elaborately staged and lighted in the manner of a movie and captured at extremely high resolution. Every object in the frame — down to the last pebble and pine needle — is positioned and illuminated by design. No detail is left to chance. The product of all this meticulous preparation (not to mention months of post-production) is breathtaking: The prints (45 x 58 inches in this series) are richly saturated and pinpoint sharp, with infinite depth of field. Each image tells a story, but Crewdson isn’t sure what it is: “In my own head, the story is undefined and murky, impenetrable,” he says in an interview with American Photo Magazine. “My whole need to make pictures comes out of the urge to understand what that story is.” All this artist can tell us for sure is that the pictures represent “moments between moments.”
Crewdson is keenly attuned to the mandates of his deepest artistic instincts — those visions and urges that motivate him and inform his creative life. In other words, he is, to a certain extent, conscious of his own subconscious. That’s why his pictures are at once dreamlike, disturbing, and manifestly authentic. These images ring true, even to the first-time viewer, because it’s Crewdson’s own dream life that’s on public display. “I’ve always been interested,” he says, “in the psychological nature of picture, in trying to explain my own fear and anxiety and desire in photographs. The pictures are my means of trying to find meaning in the world.” Such emotional transparency is disarming and powerful, more so even than technical perfection.
Crewdson’s gift isn’t primarily about operating camera equipment. Like a movie director, he relies on his crew to deal with the technical details so he can focus on creative matters. “It’s almost ironic that my pictures are so technical, because I’m not so good at that stuff,” he confesses.
Crewdson is more than a fine art photographer. He’s also an educator. Yes, he’s director of graduate studies in photography at Yale University school of art. But that’s not what makes him an educator. What makes him an educator is mainly his body of work and what he has to say about it. But what he says isn’t for photographers only: All artists have something to learn from Mr. Crewdson because he speaks to all artists about the fundamentals of artistic authenticity: “Frustration is key to making art in general. To make art is to will something into life, but there’s always something that goes against you.”
Crewdson will make his directorial debut with a film adaptation of the book, “The Deepest Secret,” for Marc Platt, producer of “Bridge of Spies.” His “Cathedral of the Pines” exhibition ends on March 5.
Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters https://www.gregorycrewdsonmovie.com/