P5: Research Point: Gregory Crewdson

Watch this YouTube video about Gregory Crewdson and his work and consider the questions below.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7CvoTtus34&feature=youtu.be [accessed 24/02/14]
• Do you think there is more to this work than aesthetic beauty?
• Do you think Crewdson succeeds in making his work ‘psychological’? What does this mean?
• What is your main goal when making pictures? Do you think there’s anything wrong with making beauty your main goal? Why or why not?

There is certainly a lot more to this work than aesthetic beauty. Crewdson is a very complex character and he brings much of this complexity to his images. He has an idea in his head which seems to be a composite of very intense feelings which he then choreographs, with the aid of a huge team and very elaborate lighting. Nothing is left to chance. The result is indeed aesthetically beautiful but completely manufactured. In my opinion this detracts from the resultant images. There is no spontaneity and I ask myself “What is the point of this work”? As Chrissie Iiles, Curator, Whitney Museum of American Art,  says of Crewsdon’s work (1) it is cinematique. One then has to wonder why Crewdson does not make films continuing and expanding his images into a movie. It would be really interesting to get to the core of what is behind these images. In a recent interview (2) Crewsdon admits:

We’re in discussions right now in terms of the possibility of making a movie — a Hollywood film. It might happen. It might not happen.

Crewsdon is the son of a psychotherapist so he was reared in an atmosphere of therapeutic analysis. He wanted to follow his father footsteps and become a psychotherapist but his dyslexia prevented him. One wonders is he trying to carry out an ongoing psychoanalysis of certain staged situations. A kind of “What if…?” situation. He says in an interview (3) he tried to make a projection of the stories he might have heard when he pressed his ear to the floorboards above where his father was interviewing clients. He seems to have been deeply influenced by his fathers work and to have carried this into his images. One wonders if his own inner soul is as tortured as his images infer or if, for him, it is the final aesthetics which matter.

Crewsdon’s work, for me, is not psychological  it is too staged and too cinematique. I would find a scene where natural or limited lighting was used, more disturbing.

My main goal in making images is to try to create something which will stand out in whatever genre in which I am working. I rarely succeed but the point is to keep trying. So if I was working in Psycho dramatic type images I would be working towards much less staged scenes. I would be even more pleased to come across an actual scene which appeared to be, or was, sinister and to photograph this. I think the end result, if the quality was good, would be more convincing but probably a lot less aesthetic.

I would have no problem with making beauty my main goal but then what is beauty? It is defined as:

  • concerned with beauty or the appreciation of beauty.
  • a set of principles underlying the work of a particular artist or artistic movement
  • the philosophical theory or set of principles governing the idea of beauty at a given time and place:

In the end beauty is in the eye of the beholder….

  1. YouTube. 2016. Gregory Crewdson’s Photography Capturing a Movie Frame | Art in Progress | Reserve Channel – YouTube. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7CvoTtus34&feature=youtu.be. [Accessed 20 May 2016].
  2. Ken Weingart Photography and Art Blog. 2016. Ken Weingart Photography and Art Blog. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.kenweingart.com/blog/interview-gregory-crewdson/. [Accessed 20 May 2016].
  3. Vimeo. 2016. Gregory Crewdson: In a Lonely Place on Vimeo. [ONLINE] Available at: https://vimeo.com/49665029. [Accessed 09 May 2016].
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