Gregory Crewdson: Sanctuary

The Epic Photographer Shoots Rome’s Fabled Film Studio Cinecittà

Gregory Crewdson’s work is often described as “cinematic.” But that’s almost an understatement. His extravagantly staged and meticulously retouched photographs take the visual language—not to mention vast production crews—of the filmmaking industry to a pristine extreme, coming across like obsessively airbrushed stills from an imaginary, American-gothic blockbuster. Crewdson’s last major series, 2005’s Beneath the Roses, featured 20 large-scale images of run-down interiors, seedy dime stores and trailer parks, all glowing with too-perfect colors, and crammed with seemingly insignificant but obsessively placed detail. Given that this took a team of hundreds seven years to produce, we can see why he’s gone for something “more intimate, more organic, smaller scale,” for his latest project Sanctuary, which explores Rome’s legendary Cinecittà film studio, site of Ben-Hur’s chariot race and much of Fellini’s fantasies. Crewdson came across the studio while traveling with a museum show in Rome. “It was one of those moments when I saw the entire project in my mind,” he says. “Black and white, small format, emptied-out sets. I wanted to make a connection back to the tradition of landscape photography, to try to drain the pictures of any drama, in a sense.” This “aha” moment (as the artist calls it) led to Crewdson’s work hitting a striking new direction: the sensationalist became quiet, documenting rather than imposing, looking rather than showing. The resulting series, which we premiere exclusively today on NOWNESS (accompanied by field recordings Crewdson captured while shooting in the studio), is on display at the uptown Gagosian gallery in New York from today.

All images from Gregory Crewdson's Sanctuary, 2009
Courtesy of the artist and the Gagosian Gallery, 2010



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