By Guy Smallman
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Bleak, unsettling, and powerful images in Gregory Crewsdon’s exhibition

This article is over 4 years, 9 months old
Issue 2566
Father and Son (section) (2013)
Father and Son (section) (2013) (Pic: Gregory Crewsdon)

For the first time ever three floors of the Photographers’ Gallery have been given to a single exhibition—and it does not disappoint.

Gregory Crewdson has made his name creating images that meld the techniques of the photographer with all the production infrastructure of modern cinema.

Each image is meticulously planned and executed by a vast team under Crewdson’s direction. Locations, lighting, cast and logistics are given the same consideration and attention to detail as any Hollywood movie and the results are captured in stunning detail.

As with previous collections he studies the underbelly of small town America. His images are as devoid of action as they are of hope and warmth.

The impression is of aftermath and emptiness. The power of the photos lies in what they suggest rather than what they actually depict.


The Disturbance shows a woman surveying the scene outside her home as firefighters head to the centre of a frozen lake. The object of their attention is off screen but the numb expression on her face speaks volumes.

Under The Bridge is an apocalyptic scene of two naked women, one of them breast feeding an infant, staring blankly at a fast flowing river. Nudity features heavily in this work. But never in an erotic way—the subjects look pale, vulnerable and exposed.

Father and Son depicts a bed-ridden man in a catatonic trance gazing apathetically at the ceiling of his room. His medication lies on a bedside table, bits of faded military medals are on the sideboard. His lonely looking son is reflected in the mirror like a ghost.

This is without doubt Crewdson’s least theatrical and most unsettling work to date. Its cold colours and dreary settings study the potential solitude of the human condition through his trademark use of detailed scenes and the subtle power of suggestion.

For fans of the dark and unsettling this exhibition is not to be missed.

Cathedral of the Pines

Gregory Crewdson

23 June to 8 October

Photographers’ Gallery

16-18 Ramillies St, Soho, London, W1F 7LW

Open 10am to 8pm

Free entry before 12 noon

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