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b. 1962, USA

Gregory Crewdson Biography

In his images, American photographer Gregory Crewdson draws out the American vernacular and anxieties of suburbia. Working with large crews and built sets, the artist constructs chilling scenes akin to movie stills that bridge truth and fiction, emphasising isolation and loneliness.

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Early life and work

Gregory Crewdson was born in Brooklyn, New York. In 1985, he received his BA from Purchase College, State University of New York. He later received his MFA in Photography from Yale University in 1988, where he now sits as the director of the graduate photography studies programme.

Crewdson's first experience with photography was in 1972, when his father took him to a Diane Arbus retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art. While he had not yet decided to pursue photography, this exhibition was pivotal to Crewdson. He has previously remarked that it was the first time he discovered the power of photographs. Crewdson only began taking photos during his undergraduate studies through the mentorship of American artist Laurie Simmons.

The artist's early work was inspired by suburban life and diorama displays in natural history museums. In his 'Natural Wonder' (1992—1997) series, he built small backdrops and models where he arranged insects and animals as his subjects. Constructed and set on the fringes of suburbia, these works have an eerie, cultish, and even grotesque tone. In one untitled photo from the series, several birds stand watch over eggs arranged in a circle. In another, mice surround a mutilated human leg, implying that they had captured and chewed through this figure.

Gregory Crewdson Artworks

Artistic Process

Crewdson's photographic process is one akin to cinematography and movie sets, yet condensed into a single frame. His ambiguous and cinematic scenes often blur the lines between reality and fiction. Crewdson's photographs provide the viewer with hyperrealistic narratives, yet in reality are completely staged and constructed.

Often working with a crew of around 30 people, Crewdson's photographs are carefully planned with the help of lighting directors, storyboard artists, technicians, location scouts, and actors. The process of making his 'Beneath the Roses' (2003—2008) series involved closing off streets of small towns in Vermont and Massachusetts, as well as a collaboration with art directors to construct elaborate settings in sound stages.

Crewdson uses a Phase One camera and has previously operated large-format film cameras to capture intense detail for his large-scale prints. In 2012, Ben Shapiro directed, produced, and shot Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters, a documentary about the artist's process and practice over the span of ten years.

Solitude and Suburbia

Much of Crewdson's photographs are melancholic depictions of isolation set in homes and small towns. His work is informed by the location that he sets his scenes in. Having utilised dark and subdued colour palettes, his photographs incite similar feelings to looking at photographs by William Eggleston, paintings of Edward Hopper, or the films of David Lynch. Crewdson's chilling 'Twilight' (1998—2002) series includes an image of a woman floating in a flooded home, scenes from a bathroom, and figures standing eerily beneath a streetlamp.

A slight departure from his architecturally heavy sets, Crewdson's 'Cathedral of the Pines' (2013—2014) series instead features the surrounding forests of rural towns. Portraying nude figures on the back of a pickup truck, couples conversing in the snow, and downcast women in their homes, the artist continues to play with the tensions of solitude and belonging and the unknown struggles that his subjects experience.

In a 2016 interview with SCI-Arc, Crewdson discusses the lonely qualities and voyeuristic impulse of photography as a means to uncover secret stories. He has moreover talked about the psychological nature of photography in a 2014 interview with American Photo, saying that 'I've always been interested 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.'

Exhibitions

Gregory Crewdson has held solo exhibitions at The San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; White Cube, London; and Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne. His work has been collected by major institutions such as The Guggenheim Museum, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Arianna Mercado | Ocula | 2021

Gregory Crewdson Featured Artworks

The Cobra by Gregory Crewdson contemporary artwork photography
Gregory Crewdson The Cobra, 2018–2019 Archival pigment print mounted to Dibond
127 x 226.1 cm
Templon Contact Gallery
Red Star Express by Gregory Crewdson contemporary artwork photography
Gregory Crewdson Red Star Express, 2018–2019 Archival pigment print mounted to Dibond
127 x 226.1 cm
Templon Contact Gallery
Funeral Back Lot by Gregory Crewdson contemporary artwork photography
Gregory Crewdson Funeral Back Lot, 2018–2019 Archival pigment print mounted to Dibond
127 x 226.1 cm
Templon Contact Gallery
Pickup Truck by Gregory Crewdson contemporary artwork photography
Gregory Crewdson Pickup Truck, 2014 Digital pigment print
95.3 x 127 cm
Templon Contact Gallery
Sisters by Gregory Crewdson contemporary artwork photography
Gregory Crewdson Sisters, 2014 Digital pigment print
114.5 x 146.2 cm (incl frame)
Templon Contact Gallery
The Den by Gregory Crewdson contemporary artwork photography
Gregory Crewdson The Den, 2013 Digital pigment print
95.3 x 127 cm
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Templon
Woman at Kitchen Window by Gregory Crewdson contemporary artwork photography
Gregory Crewdson Woman at Kitchen Window, 2013 Digital pigment print
95.3 x 127 cm
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Templon

Gregory Crewdson Recent Exhibitions

Gregory Crewdson Represented By

Gagosian contemporary art gallery in 980 Madison Avenue, New York, USA
Gagosian Athens, Basel, Beverly Hills, Geneva, Gstaad +6
Templon contemporary art gallery in 30 rue Beaubourg, Paris, France
Templon Brussels, New York, Paris

Gregory Crewdson In Ocula Magazine

Gregory Crewdson In Related Press

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