Gregory Crewdson – Cathedral of the Pines

I visited this exhibition at The Photographer’s Gallery, where all three exhibition floors had been devoted to its display. I had seen examples of Crewdson’s work before but only online or in books, this was the first exhibition of his that I had attended. I was aware of his style and the, almost Hollywood like, lighting set ups that he uses. Apparently, on this occasion though, his set up was rather more restrained than has been the case in the past.

I was intrigued to see how his work would fit in to a definition of ‘Landscape’, before starting this module I would probably have said that I would not have described it as landscape, but that is more to do with the very narrow definition of landscape that I previously adopted. I would now include this particular work within the definition,but classified as a very particular genre of landscape. WILLIAMS (2017) quotes Crewdson as saying “I’m not particularly interested in nature with a capital ‘N’. I’m interested in using these settings to describe something psychological”. This is similar to the psychogeography I have just been reading about in the course material, except that here Crewdson is creating and adapting the psychogeography to his own purpose. In fact, I described them in my notebook at the time as mostly “a cross between a mis-en-scene and a landscape”

I was very interested in the lighting used in the images, some of which, particularly where women were looking out of windows, seemed almost Vermeer-like (eg  Woman at Sink, 2014 ) I was interested to read the reviews of critics to see the artistic influences that they found in Crewdson’s images. BREEN (2017) considers Edward Hopper to be Crewdson’s “forebear” whose images of “ lonely Americana stripped back the inner workings of the nation’s psyche”. LUGEZ (2016) believes “many of the frames remind us of 19th century paintings, from Courbet or Manet, yet tinged with a contemporary anxiety”, whereas WATERS (2017) considers one of the most important influences to be “19th century landscape painting2 and comments on how, in Crewdson’s images “In many of the domestic scenes, the outside appears to be encroaching on the interior space, and light pours thorough the windows”.

It was a fascinating exhibition, and one I got a lot more out of having done some of the early work for the Landscape module



BREEN, M., (2017), Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines [Homepage of Time Out], [Online]. Available: [Accessed 08/10/2017].

LUGEZ, A., (2016), Cathedral of the Pnes [Homepage of Lensculture], [Online]. Available: [Accessed 08/10/2017].

WATERS, L., (2017), How photographer Gregory Crewdson captured the sad heart of Trump’s America [Homepage of Daily Telegraph], [Online]. Available: [Accessed 08/10/2017].

WILLIAMS, E., 29/06/2017, 2017-last update, Gregory Crewdson on his new series Cathedral of the Pines [Homepage of Creative Review], [Online]. Available: [Accessed 08/10/2017].