In the world of Gregory Crewdson, it's always twilight and his subjects are always caught between moments we might never understand. The fine-art photographer, known for his uncanny, cinematic imagery, has just come out with his first series in five years. Called Cathedral of the Pines, the work is inspired by a two-year stretch during which he didn't make one picture. After his divorce in 2010, Crewdson retreated to Becket, MA—the town where his family summered when he was young—spending his days hiking, swimming, and skiing. "One day," the artist writes in an email, "while I was skiing deep in the woods, I came to the edge of a frozen lake in a pine forest. Something about the light and scents and the cold air brought me back to a moment when I was young, in the woods near our country home. In that moment, I felt like a dark cloud lifted, and for the first time in so long, I felt the drive to make pictures again."
The resulting work was shot on location in Becket over the course of three productions in 2013 and 2014; the prevalence of nature is new for Crewdson, but the ambiguity of the subjects' stories is ever-present. "The narrative resides in a singular moment," Crewdson says. "It's therefore inherently open-ended and unresolved. There is no before or after. I like both the possibilities and limitations this presents in terms of narrative."
The highly produced images come together through a process that includes written descriptions, location scouting, and a crew resembling that of a film. The theatrical photos of 1970s interiors and characters staring into the distance, seemingly frozen in their states of mind, are characterized by a surreal glaze, one that permeates Crewdson's Lynchian style. Here, we share a selection of the artist's most recent photos, with anecdotes from the artist.More
"My partner Juliane is the central figure in this picture. I had the idea of a nondescript car in the middle of the forest one day when we were hiking on the Appalachian Trail. The configuration of pinecones makes reference to the title of the body of work, and also suggests some kind of ritual that is unexplained. I wanted the man to be very separate from her, encased in his car, as if in a diorama."
"The Pine Forest," 2014, Digital Pigment Print, Image size 37 1/2 x 50 inches (95.3 x 127 cm), Framed size 45 1/16 x 57 9/16 inches (114.5 x 146.2 cm), Edition of 3, plus 2 APs. ©Gregory Crewdson
"When I was thinking of this picture, I was playing off when my own father died. Even though I was a grown man when that happened, I was at his bedside. But I wanted to make this picture ambiguous. The boy only being in the reflection adds meaning. Is he really there? Is it a fever dream the man is having? Incidentally, the boy in the picture is Juliane's son Jack, and it was shot in his grandmother's bedroom."
"Father and Son," 2013, Digital Pigment Print, Image size 37 1/2 x 50 inches (95.3 x 127 cm), Framed size 45 1/16 x 57 9/16 inches (114.5 x 146.2 cm), Edition of 3, plus 2 APs. ©Gregory Crewdson