This body of work marks a time of transition for the artist, including the end of his marriage and a retreat from New York to a remote home and studio in western Massachusetts—a period of time during which Crewdson chose to remain socially withdrawn, instead committing to daily, long-distance, open-water swims and cross-country skiing on wooded paths. Cathedral of the Pines is named after one of these trails, deep in the forests of Becket, Massachusetts, the site where he found the inspiration to make these new pictures. It was there that he felt darkness lift, experienced a reconnection with his artistic process, and moved into a period of renewal and intense creative productivity.
The photographs are accompanied by an essay by Alexander Nemerov, who addresses the work in relation to the American past, focusing in particular on the way the images draw space and time down to ceremonial points, in which “all that ever happened in these places seems crystallized in his tableaux, as if the quiet melancholy of Crewdson’s scenes gathered the unruly sorrows and other little-guessed feelings of people long-gone who once stood on those spots.”
Gregory Crewdson (born in Brooklyn, 1962) is a graduate of SUNY Purchase and the Yale School of Art, where he is now Director of Graduate Studies in Photography. His series Beneath the Roses, which took nearly ten years and a crew of over one hundred people to complete, is the subject of the 2012 documentary Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters. His work has been exhibited widely in the United States and Europe, including a survey that toured throughout Europe from 2001 to 2008. Crewdson’s awards include the Skowhegan Medal for Photography, the National Endowment for the Arts Visual Artists Fellowship, and the Aaron Siskind Fellowship. He is represented by Gagosian Gallery, New York.
Alexander Nemerov (essay) is the chair of the Department of Art and Art History at Stanford University. His recent books include Silent Dialogues: Diane Arbus and Howard Nemerov (2015), Wartime Kiss: Visions of the Moment in the 1940s (2013), and Acting in the Night: Macbeth and the Places of the Civil War (2010).