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Loneliness and Multitudes

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Beneath the Roses  

It’s not an easy undertaking: The snow nearly killed him it was so hard, and a number of houses were demolished or set on fire for the photographs. But when all that effort comes together in one picture, “It’s the most beautiful moment for me,” Crewdson says. “Everything’s aligned in the world at that moment. The world makes sense. Order. Perfection even. It makes me weep.”

It is also an extraordinarily expensive way to make art. The productions are under-written by the three galleries that represent Crewdson, but he won’t get specific about what it cost to produce these 32 images, saying only that his line producer is quite strict. Still, any suggestion that Wall Street’s travails may take a bite out of the contemporary-art-market mania turns him pale: “Of course I worry about that!”

Because Crewdson’s method is so cinematic, and he has close relationships with many filmmakers—Noah Baumbach and Wes Anderson, to name two (he freely admits his childhood brownstone is very Baumbachian in tone)—and because the photographs have a decidedly narrative feel, almost as if they were film stills, it would seem a logical next step for him to direct a movie. He doesn’t agree. “I think in terms of single images,” he says. “My work is profoundly connected to that tradition. I really don’t know what happens before or after an image. I really have no clue.”

The last time Crewdson shot anything himself was when his first marriage had fallen apart, a decade ago, and he’d retreated, of course, to that cabin in the woods and begun to photograph fireflies. He put the images away after that painful summer but recently reopened the box. “They couldn’t be more different from the way I’m making pictures now because they are so economical, so simple, but at the same time they’re very connected to what I do. They use light as a way of telling a story, and a moment of wonder. I guess my point is that you can’t really get away from yourself ever. Every artist has a story to tell. The form of the story changes, but the core obsessions are still there.”


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