Thursday, February 11, 2016

Gregory Crewdson, Cathedral of The Pines at Gagosian Gallery (revised)

Stepping out of the frigid February weather and into the gallery, I was hit with another kind of chilliness within the large format photographs by Gregory Crewdson. Upon first glance, the smooth quality of the images tempted my eye to believe they were not photographs at all, but oil paintings, urging me to step closerThough I was not initially attracted to first photograph I encountered--unconvinced by the contrived scenes--as I walked through the gallery the group of images worked together like stills from a movie, creating an ambiance that saturated the space. It was an atmosphere of indistinct tension--of cool and warm, exterior and interior, static and theatrical, where the pathetic and mundane seemed to be teetering at the edge of the dramatic. 

This tension is especially strong in the piece, Woman at Sink, in which a middle-aged woman stands in the kitchen of a seemingly unremarkable rural american home. She looks off into the distance with a sullen expression. In front of her is a sink brimming with water, tainted with an unsettling blood red hue. 

Crewdson has cleverly crafted palette, considered perspective, and deployed props to provoke a subtle mystery which lures you into the ambiguous and often awkward narrative, drawing out your empathy and tempting you to step into this cold and uncomfortable world.

"Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines"
Installation viewArtwork © Gregory Crewdson

Photo by Rob McKeever

Woman at Sink, 2014
Digital pigment print
Image size: 37 1/2 × 50 inches (95.3 × 127 cm)
Edition of 3 + 2 APs
© Gregory Crewdson


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  2. I like the way you list out the factors of the atmosphere. It is brilliant to pick an example, Woman at Sink, to depict how the atmosphere is embedded in the work. I do agree the photographs are extremely painterly, then I would wonder what genre of the painting that the artist is possibly imitating? I would relate the photographs to photorealism, what about you? It might not be necessary, but it will be something that I would like to know since you mention painting in the writing and it is a big part of the work. As one of my most important inspiration in New York, I really enjoy this show. However, I will doubt the amount of the prints and the necessity of titling each piece.

  3. I like that your lead frames the show in relation to the exterior/interior of the actual gallery space, which then ties into your analysis of the photographs themselves having that tension between interior/exterior. You are really successful in creating a sensory experience for your reader (that “saturated ambience” you describe). When you say that you were not initially convinced of the work - having seen the show I think I understand what you mean, but I think your reader might need more elaboration. What was initially “unconvincing” about the work? Did it come off as too contrived? How do the works titles, which you bring up here, relate to your initial reaction, if at all? I’m glad you singled out one piece to describe in detail. Rather than opening that paragraph with “This feeling,” I think you could be more precise. Overall you captured the atmosphere of this show really wonderfully and your use of language is a great combination of playful and serious (particularly the alliteration in the last paragraph, “palette, perspective, and props to provoke…”)