Gregory Crewdson: In a Lonely Place


When I was in Wellington I visited the Gregory Crewdson exhibition In a Lonely Place at the city gallery.

The exhibition comprises of three photographic series: Beneath the Roses, Sanctuary and Fireflies, which all utilise a different way of working and yet all sit well within the overall theme.

The series Beneath the Roses is heavily staged, Crewdson not only arrests time, he stops it completely a highly cinematic and unnatural hyper-freeze.  The lighting in his work is incredible and lends itself well to the eerie atmosphere.  The figures seem like hyper-real paintings rather than photographs.  The true sense of the dramatic is really in the scale of the works, I couldn’t find the dimensions listed online, but standing in front of one of these images it fills your vision, and you become a voyeur in these disconcerting and strangely intimate scenes.

Gregory Crewdson, 2003, Untitled (Maple Street) [pigmented inkjet print]
Gregory Crewdson, 2003, Untitled (Maple Street) [pigmented inkjet print]
The Sanctuary series has more of a serious documentary approach.  Here Crewdson explores the abandoned buildings of a film set in Italy. The lack of people so prominent in his previous staged work creates the sense of a ghost town, the black and white adding gravitas to the photographs.

Gregory Crewdson, 2009, Untitled 07
Gregory Crewdson, 2009, Untitled 07

My favourite series was the Fireflies.  Modest compared to rest the Fireflies were much smaller, more physically intimate and tucked away, contained, in their own small room. They are simple images, mostly incorporating silhouetted landscape against a darkening sky and just the tiny pinpricks of light that the fireflies produce.

Gregory Crewdson, 1996, Untitled (11-35) [silver gelatin print]
Gregory Crewdson, 1996, Untitled (11-35) [silver gelatin print]
There was one that at first glance just looked like a black rectangle, but on closer inspection, a faint horizon was visible, the forms of the landscape black on black and the fireflies barely distinguishable. Looking at it was like walking outside in the dark and waiting for my eyes to adjust.  This series was just so quiet compared to the boldly cinematic qualities of Beneath the Roses or the solemn seriousness of the Sanctuary project. The sense of the simple magic of the everyday for me really captured the melancholia suggested by the title In a Lonely Place.


  1. Lucky you! how awesome. Hope I can get down there to see it too. Thanks for the great description/review.. I am actually getting very interested in the cinematic crossover that some photographic atists like Crewdson have mastered and have started reading about how the work of photogaphers and filmakers have in turn influenced each other.

    1. I think you’d really enjoy it. It’s a very generous exhibition, lots to take in. I was really interested in the different approaches in his work, there is a lot of diversity between the projects and yet they create some interesting dialogue.

      The cinematic element of his work is so much clearer looking at the photographs up close, and seeing them large really played up those elements too.

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