Suburban stories: the borrowers

Gregory Crewdson, Untitled (Woman at Vanity), 2004 (from the series Beneath the Roses)

Although Gregory Crewdson’s strongest influences seem to come from Hollywood cinema, and his works are easy to read as film stills, in some of his pictures there are also clear art historical references. Untitled (Woman at Vanity) could easily be a still from a film or and American television series. I find myself wondering about the open curtains – especially given that this is a ground floor bedroom – and worrying about the slightly open patio door. The couple seem sad, but this is not a shared state; each looks lost in their own thoughts and their own private disappointment. The setting and the relationship between the couple might scream Crewdson but coupled with a hint of Edward Hopper.

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Suburban stories: tales of the unexplained

Gregory Crewdson, Untitled (Bus Fire), 2002 (from the series Twilight)

Given the cinematic feeling of Philip-Lorca diCorcia’s Hollywood series, it seems like a good time to look at Gregory Crewdson’s representations of American suburbia, a place that feels oddly familiar from films. In Crewdson’s suburbs, all is not well. The detached houses and neat front lawns might suggest otherwise but these are places where dystopian nightmares are more likely to be played out than the American dream. Of course, this is also familiar from the movies – think Blue Velvet – it’s just that here we have to fill in the gaps ourselves rather than watching the dream unravel on screen.

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