On first impressions the work of Gregory Crewdson, often regarded as cinematic seem to be a prelude to the hyperrealism of modern television. The initial surprise to me comes that the work was shot on large format film. Not because of the image quality, but the aesthetic flavour looks rendered like a 4k file. It is not to say that this look was not possible before but I detect a certain influence on current tv and cinema visuals. The film adaptation of Gone Girl (Fincher, 2014) immediately comes to mind. The use of suburban America as a backdrop (see fig. 1.) of the narratives carry 'the uncanny of everyday life.' (Lugez, 2016). Yet I also see elements of surrealism influenced by David Lynch. And the dramatised stylising of spectacle through media is culturally specific.
The scale of his crews and setups are notoriously as large as Hollywood productions. This is particularly interesting as his influences are cited from cinema, during the era of practical effects (pre CGI). Generally the compositions owe a strong reference to in movie terms, the establishing shot (see fig. 2.). Which tends to be a wider angle that sets up a scene. It has a very observational quality for the viewer that is not so much voyeuristic, but indulgent, much like reality tv, serial dramas and soap operas.
This modernisation of tableaux uses the media of our time, but there are evocations of earlier works. Scenes that Athina Lugez in Lens Culture says are reminiscent of 19th paintings by Manet. But the lighting could also be late-Renaissance or Baroque. Crewdson has previously employed the work of cinematographers to realise the balance of natural light illuminating the subject and artificial light to support the scene which is not the recognised aesthetic of his work.
The cultural relevance and quality of outcome are for me the biggest successes. It is not a style I am personally interested in but I can appreciate the high craft of the production.
Gagosian (no date) Available at: https://www.gagosian.com/artists/gregory-crewdson (Accessed on 31.08.18).
Guggenheim (no date) Available at: https://www.guggenheim.org/artwork/artist/gregory-crewdson (Accessed on 31.08.18).
Lugez, A. (2016) ‘Cathedral of the Pines’ In: Lens Culture [online] At: https://www.lensculture.com/articles/gregory-crewdson-cathedral-of-the-pines (Accessed on 31.08.18).