Gregory Crewdson
April 24, 2005 7:41 AM   Subscribe

The photographs of Gregory Crewdson are variably described as disturbing (nsfw,) otherworldly, filmic and sometimes just technically stunning. He readily acknowledges the influence of David Lynch and Steven Spielberg, so it's no surprise that some of Hollywood's finest are queuing up to appear in his big budget images of skewed suburbia.
posted by fire&wings (24 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Quite good. Reminds me of Cindy Sherman.
posted by squirrel at 7:57 AM on April 24, 2005

Wow. The lighting and composition in those photographs are amazing. Thanks.
posted by driveler at 8:15 AM on April 24, 2005

And not just Hollywood's finest... some of Hoboken's finest have fallen under his spell too.
posted by letourneau at 8:41 AM on April 24, 2005

I'd seen the 'Dylan on the floor' image before and really liked it, but none of the others. Excellent post. Thanks.
posted by stumcg at 8:43 AM on April 24, 2005

Nice post f&w. I had no idea that photographs of limited editions could command such prices as to support "big budget" productions. These certainly go way beyond candid photography.

In keeping with the adage that a good photo should tell a story, a good story should make a clear point. Many of these photos build my curiosity, just as a good raconteur can do, but they leave me hanging. I presume that is Crewdson's intent, which is what probably gives them their "disturbing" quality.

For example, the overturned school bus doesn't tell me how it came to be that way, and so I find myself unable to resolve the story contained within the image. I tried creating a variety of "back stories" but none of them satisfied the evidence provided in the photo. No doubt, Crewdson's popularity stems in part from the imaginative gymnastics he evokes from his viewers.

Great fun!
posted by RMALCOLM at 8:51 AM on April 24, 2005

I love these, thanks. They do look very much like film stills though, don't they?

For some reason I'd love to see them on a ViewMaster.
posted by crumbly at 9:01 AM on April 24, 2005

Thanks for telling us about these.
posted by Hildago at 9:13 AM on April 24, 2005

Some of the shots do remind me of Spielberg and Lynch, especially the “disaster in surburbia” motif. Some are a bit obvious and surreal for my tastes, like the Ophelia shots. I'm also underwhelmed by “Dylan on the Floor”

I wouldn't compare these to Cindy Sherman at all. Sherman’s work depends not only an hallucinatory feeling of cinematicness, but also on the repetition and unfolding of a mediated persona who is Sherman herself. In other words, Sherman’s work, to a photograph, are various mediations of her mediated persona.

All this said, the “disaster in surburbia” motif reminds me very much of Richard Kelly’s Donnie Darko.
posted by mistersquid at 9:19 AM on April 24, 2005

I'd say he's been influenced by George Romero as well.
posted by mischief at 10:06 AM on April 24, 2005

Really incredible stuff. I'm just starting to get back into photography so these really make me think about all the possibilities out there. Truly amazing.
posted by mk1gti at 10:30 AM on April 24, 2005

I see some Atom Egoyan in there too. This recent Guardian article is interesting, and mentions that commentators like to bring up the fact that his father was a psychoanalyst. Also, this article is about the set and teams for the photographs. Does anyone have a login for Artprice? I'd love to know roughly how much they are going for - here is a list of past and upcoming auctions, but you need a login to access info.
posted by fionab at 10:31 AM on April 24, 2005

Jeff Wall, a Canadian artist who makes massive lightbox photos, has a similar aesthetic. Some are staged, like his envisioning of Invisible Man, others are more like suburban landscapes.
posted by fionab at 10:36 AM on April 24, 2005

Good post. I like the idea that, with digital cameras making it so simple for people to shoot billions(?) of photos each year, some guy puts a lot of time and effort into each one.

The other thing to mention is that the photos are very large; this one on end is almost the height of Yao Ming. I saw an exhibit of his at MassMOCA about a year ago and, instead of rushing through the galleries as I usually do, I spent a lot of time in there.

I especially liked one from the b/w Hover series of a bear that's surrounded by the police and other onlookers in suburbia — unfortunately, I can only find it reproduced online in a size so small as to be worthless. It is an incredible photo of an ambiguous moment; I couldn't even figure out if it was a live bear, or stuffed.
posted by LeLiLo at 11:03 AM on April 24, 2005

Thank you thank you thank you. I saw some of this guy's work a couple of years ago and have been unable to remember his name since. Now I know!
posted by biscotti at 1:03 PM on April 24, 2005

I wish I had $20,000 to setup shots too...

Anyone know what he's shooting with?
posted by trinarian at 2:34 PM on April 24, 2005

Crewdson's pictures always remind me of The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, one of my favorite books. The visual style is different, but they've got the same sense of drama and mystery.
posted by nebulawindphone at 2:51 PM on April 24, 2005

OK, I take back what I said about Crewdson’s photographs not being reminiscent of Cindy Sherman’s photos. While Crewdson’s project is distinct from Sherman’s, some of the shots quote Sherman in terms of focal depth, image granularity, and lighting effects. So, yeah, squirrel was right on.

Thanks, also, to fionab for pointing me in the direction of Jeff Wall’s “Invisible Man”. For anyone interested, a high-resolution version of that photograph can be accessed.
posted by mistersquid at 5:23 PM on April 24, 2005

The photographs of Gregory Crewdson are variably described as disturbing (nsfw,) otherworldly, filmic and sometimes just technically stunning.

Or, described as sterile, remote, posed, lifeless, and contrived. I guess I'm not a fan. Hey, I know that it takes all types to make this world, but why is everyone so taken with artless craft?

I overheard a student telling/asking a photography teacher at a local school--I want to get the lighting effect that Joyce Tenneson can I do that? The teacher, without pause, said--drop $40,000 on a 20 x 24" polaroid setup and use a light diffuser the size of a Chevy.

Technique is fine--no, it's great--but when the photography becomes about the technique, I'm left in the cold. Crewdson doesn't move me like Robert Frank or Gene Meatyard. Guess I'm more of a Minor White "Octave of a Prayer" fan than a fan of studio manipulation.
posted by beelzbubba at 5:31 PM on April 24, 2005

For me it is a little like Edward Hopper meets Gilles Tran
posted by bashos_frog at 6:49 PM on April 24, 2005

I think he captures quite well the sterile, soulless and often bizarre nature of the suburbs and its inhabitants.
posted by johnjreiser at 7:26 PM on April 24, 2005

Crewdson uses a large-format film camera with color negative film. His technique is utterly traditional once he has set up what his camera is pointing at (the pointing, but especially the what).
posted by gum at 7:34 PM on April 24, 2005

I'm actually so not impressed with this.

Looks like stills from any late 80's b movie.

Way to master basic film lighting, guy.
posted by stenseng at 8:26 AM on April 25, 2005

Reminds me a little of Charlie White... Only more boring.
posted by hartsell at 9:20 AM on April 25, 2005

are we sure about no enhancements?
posted by gorgor_balabala at 5:50 PM on April 26, 2005

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