14 April – 17 May 2005
Beneath the Roses was an exhibition of twenty new large-scale photographs by Gregory Crewdson. In these pointedly theatrical yet intensely real panoramic images, Crewdson explores the recesses of the American psyche and the disturbing dramas at play within quotidian environments.
In Beneath the Roses, anonymous townscapes, forest clearings and broad, desolate streets are revealed as sites of mystery and wonder; similarly, ostensibly banal interiors become the staging grounds for strange human scenarios. In one image a lone and pregnant woman stands on a wet street corner just before dawn, a small but portentous still point in a world of trajectories. On a stormy night in another nondescript town, a man in a business suit stands beside his car, holding out a hand to the cleansing rain in apparent mystification. In a plush bedroom, a man and a woman – prototypes of middle-class American dislocation – are visited by a songbird, who gazes at the woman from its perch on the vanity unit. Crewdson's scenes are tangibly atmospheric, visually alluring and often deeply disquieting. Never anchored precisely in time or place, these and the other narratives of Beneath the Roses are rather located in the dystopic landscape of the anxious American imagination .
These works fall into the tradition of classic American genres that explore the conflation of theatre and everyday life. His tableaux, in their fine detail and focus on the perplexing psychology of vernacular America, evoke the paintings of Edward Hopper and the photographs of Walker Evans and Diane Arbus. At the same time, in their vast scope and relentless grip, Crewdson's images inevitably bring to mind the world of film, particularly the work of Alfred Hitchcock, Douglas Sirk, and Terrence Malick. Indeed, Crewdson's process and approach are patently cinematic. Beneath the Roses took shape over the course of three years in collaboration with a full production team. His projects are made both on studio soundstages and on location in various small towns. After the photograph is taken, Crewdson continues his obsessive process in post-production, using state-of-the-art digital compositing and special effects. And in the end – like film at its best – Crewdson's fictions, elaborately staged and plotted though they may be, convey an experience that is intensely real.
This show opened concurrently with exhibitions at Luhring Augustine, New York and Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills, CA. A mid-career survey of Crewdson's work opened at the Kunstverein Hannover in September 2005 and travelled to Landesgalerie Linz, Austria; the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Museum Krefeld, Germany; and the Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland.
Gregory Crewdson is an internationally exhibited artist. He is the subject of numerous monographs and articles; he is on the faculty of the Department of Photography at Yale University and lives in New York City.