Life and Works of Gregory Crewdson Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 15:24:05
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Gregory Crewdson was born in Park Slope, a neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. As a teenager, he was a member of a punk rock group called The Speedies that hit the New York scene and sold out shows all over town. Their hit song Let Me Take Your Foto is a signal of what Crewdsons true calling would be later in life. The same song was used by Hewlett Packard to advertise its digital cameras. In 1985, Crewdson studied photography at SUNY Purchase, New York.

He proceeded to get his Master of Fine Arts degree from Yale University and taught at Sarah Lawrence, Cooper Union, Vassar College and Yale University where he has been on the faculty since 1993. Crewdson is represented in New York at the Luhring Augustine Gallery and in London by the White Cube Gallery. His listings of selected exhibits of his works alone cover more than two pages. Crewdson also has three photography books entitled Hover published in 1995; Twilight published in 2003; and Gregory Crewdson published in 2005.

The last was a collection of his works from 1983 to 2005. Today, Gregory Crewdson continues to work on his craft and he continues to teach because teaching is ideal for an artist because he gets to learn what the next generation are doing, what theyre reading, what theyre listening to, and to talk about form and composition¦. We end up talking about everything else -galleries, the market. Everything but the art itself.

There wasnt a lot of material on Gregory Crewdsons transition from being a member of the band to being a serious and celebrated contemporary photographer. However, in an interview conducted by Ana Finel Honigman for Kultureflash, the photographer-artist revealed that his photographic themes and influences came from varied sources such as his fathers work as a psychoanalyst to his fascination with films especially those made by Alfred Hitchcock. He also stated that he is influenced by Orson Welles and Cronenberg.

Furthermore, Crewdson revealed during the interview that he is fascinated by all films irregardless of genre, but that his fascination seems to be more with the lighting and ambience of the theatre as a controlled environment and outlet for the film as a work of art. Looking at his works of photography, Crewdson have the same cinematic feel and a pervasive feeling of gloom or foreboding. Gregory Crewdson also mentioned that You can never get away from your self as an artist or as a person.

Invariably themes and issues always resurface and make themselves evident in some form or another. In stating this, Crewdson have confirmed some of his audiences and reviewers comments that his photography seems to reflect portions or aspects of his life which he actually denied in the interview despite the statement. He insists that he feels protective about his work while still in progress often showing it to only a handful of people but once an exhibit has been decided on this body of work, then he totally disengages or makes himself unattached from his photography.

Looking at some of Gregory Crewdsons work, you can find series of photographs with the same theme or even title that has continuity and differences in light and perspective. Like his work entitled Brightview, Long Clumps of Beetles, Maple St. , Man in Woods and many others. His work Brightview has a woman whose back is turned to the audience but she seems to be holding a light towards the road. This is a two series photograph and has two light perspectives to it.

The same goes for Long Clumps of Beetles and Maple St. . With Man in Woods, I saw four photographs of the same title but again, it has the same subject but photographed in different lighting staged for the effect and perspective or angle. Gregory Crewdson has retained the cinematic feel of his photography from his first published work in 1995 through 2005. He makes use of elaborate and pre-fixed sets that reminds his audience of Hollywood type productions only instead of film, the image and moment is captured in still photographs.

In another interview with The Guardian, he said that all his photographs were shot during twilight; he revealed that My photographs are about the moment of transition between before and after¦ Twilight is evocative of that. Theres something magical about the condition. The effect of his twilight shots amidst the backdrop of a set that blends in the dark hues of the night with semblances of dark purple, and dark blue, the effect is almost eerie and oftentimes, surreal.

The emotion is always embedded with tension and the message one gets from looking or trying to make sense of his photographed images is one of an unfinished moment. It is the same feeling you get when you are watching a cliffhanger movie and then suddenly the movie stops a few seconds before the resolution of the conflict or tension. Gregory Crewdsons photographed images also leaves a lot to the audience own personal imagination and interpretation. He iterated that he purposely leaves his images unresolved because these are moments that he sees and remembered from days past.

These are captured memories that was kept hidden in his memories somewhere but that he could only remember flashes and specific instances but not the entire picture, hence, the unresolved feeling of these images. The artist-photographer wants to keep it that way. In his photograph series entitled Maple St. , there is a car in the photograph that always seems to be in the middle of the street with a door wide open and lights are emanating from both within the cab and floodlights from the electric posts.

In Maple St. 1, the car seems to be semi-parked in the road curving to the right. There seems to be a figure in the car and one of the doors is wide open. The tires on the back seems to be flat, and as always, darkness is creeping in and the glow of the light coming from the electric posts gives a creepy, foreboding feeling. There is a house nearby but there is no road ahead the image looks likes a dead end street and huge trees dwarfs the car. It is actually remindful of scenes from serial killer movies when somebody is about to be killed the just before moment.

The tension is pervasive and the mood, hanging. The same tension appears in the 2nd installment of the Maple St. series of photographs. The angle and perspective is more from the right angle and the glow or flood of lights seems to be coming from above like in Steven Spielbergs movie, The Close Encounter of the Third Kind when the alien spacecraft was hovering about and lights flooded the side of the house. The same light effects were used and the feeling is surreal and anticipating of what is about to happen again, the just before moment is captured in the image.

Another photograph series that can be compared to the Maple St. series is that of Man in the Woods series. I saw series numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4. The 1st photograph of the series comprise of what appears to be the middle of the forest with a round white light emanating from the upper half of the woods glowing like a bright moon and its bright rays covering the entire image through the tall tress and foliage. There is a structure on the right side of the picture that appears to be aluminum or piece of reflective metal and it reflects back light from it.

A figure is perched on the third step of a ladder facing the square aluminum or piece of metal. The figure is situated at the right hand corner of the picture. There is also one tall fallen tree that cuts across the image. Meanwhile, the 2nd of the series shows a different angle of the figure still perched in the 3rd step of the ladder, but now the perspective is from the left side or middle left of the image, the square piece of aluminum or metal is still there. What is absent here is the moon like glow from the bright light in picture #1.

The fallen tree is also present and the angle of the entire image is a bit further away from picture #1. There is a fog-like atmosphere in the entire image. The 3rd installment photograph has a perspective further away from the bright lights and the whole scene. Nowhere can you see the figure anymore or the square aluminum or the ladder. Not even the broken tree is present. It appears to be taken much further away from the 1st and 2nd images but it seems to be approaching these images.

The 4th image consists of a car with its headlights on (bright) and the it illuminates what lies ahead of the car which are mostly abandoned boxes surrounding a dug portion of the earth in the middle of the woods. The wood clearing which was illuminated (somewhat) by the headlights appear to an area that has been dug it resembles a would be grave. The car is surrounded by tall tress and the thick foliage barely permits any other light to come through. The same creepy feeling is there and sense of foreboding that something is about to happen.

All four installments of the series appear to be flashes of a movie scene. One take or scene after the other in the case of scene 1 to 3. But the fourth image seems to be a totally different scenario although still in the woods, and the same unfinished or unconcluded feeling is left with the viewer. Gregory Crewdson, like the personalities that have influenced him Steven Spielberg and Cronenberg, Alfred Hitchcock and Twilight Zone, David Lynch and his psychoanalyst-father, all have left their indelible mark in the world of art and their specific or chosen realm.

Gregory Crewdson refuses to be categorized into any particular genre. Lastly, his influence can also be continuously reappear as seen in his former students who have now created their own brand of thematic photography. But his mark and specific signature of twilight themed photographs have already made an indelible and distinct mark in the contemporary world of photography throughout the world.

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