Gregory Crewdson is a unique photographer who creates “movies” through a single photograph. Gregory, along with a massive crew, scripts out, sets up and shoots single photographs that are beautifully epic. The photographs he creates explore a psychological nature of humans that can be both majestic and disturbing. The creativity shines bright in the work of Gregory Crewdson.
Seeing Crewdson’s elaborately staged and lit still photographs, often taken with a large format view camera that exposes every detail, one is immediately taken in by the abbreviated narrative. What is going on? What events lead up to this scene? What will happen next? And perhaps – when is this sad and depressing movie coming out?
But there are no clues to who these people are, or what is happening to them and what will happen next. There is no movie to tell the rest of the story. There is no character development or plot. Just a snap shot in time.
The time and place in a Crewdson photograph or perhaps “movie still” is timeless. The cars, clothing and technology do not betray an exact period. This isn’t Mad Men where every detail is authentic to the exact year of the story. In Mad Men a magazine on a coffee table has to be the right year and month. In a Crewdson photograph the cars are late model. The telephones – rotary. The houses are from the 1940s – well worn, a place from a childhood or a place grandma lived.
Perhaps the sets describe a land within Crewdson’s childhood memories. The Brooklyn born Crewdson often summered in the Berkshires region of Massachusetts. A place of contrast among the summering wealthy from New York and Boston, the Tanglewood crowd and the blue collar locals who toiled in the factories of contractors the Industrial Military Complex, many of which have moved overseas, leaving in their wake a lot of unemployment, empty Main Street storefronts and housing stock in desperate need of upkeep. The kind of made for Hollywood set pieces perfect for creating a backdrop of despair and mystery.
One summer as i was driving back and forth between New Hampshire and Westbrook, Ct on I91 I found myself in “Crewdson” territory.
I was helping my parents clean out, pack up and make the permanent move to Florida and decided to take some time for my photography alone the way and as a break.
I drove through Franklin County, Ma which is spot where one would take a right coming down I91 to head over to the Berkshires Region. Its usually the spot to turn if you want to head over to Pittsfield for MassMOCA or just to spot for the McDonald’s. To the left is Greenfield, MA which has the same mix of architecture you’d see in a Crewdson piece. The city has a Main Street Historic District containing fine examples of Federal, Greek Revival, and Victorian architecture. Greenfield also has some of the large old brick mills and factories that provided the economy that created the city in the first place. Nearby is also Old Deerfields which is basically a living museum of preserved homes.
Deerfield includes the villages of South Deerfield and Old Deerfield which is home to two museums; Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association and Historic Deerfield, Inc. Historic Deerfield, Inc. is a museum with a focus on decorative arts, early American material culture, and history. Its house museums offer interpretation of society, history, and culture from the colonial era through the late nineteenth century.
But it was in Greenfield on a rainy summer day when the chance encounter with a late model car, backed by period homes provided me with a “Crewdson” moment. The only thing I was missing was a few half naked models clad in dirty, soaked sundresses.
Maybe this one with the hood up and a scraggly looking 20 something working under the hood and a kid pedaling his tricycle down the middle of the street in the background.
I have a number of images in my portfolio on Fine Art America that might fit in with a show of Crewdson’s work. Usually I don’t work with a crew of art student interns and lighting crew. So in my work just the suggestion of a car on location is all you are going to get. Make your own conclusions about what might be going on.