Sunday, May 15, 2005


Saw nearly a dozen shows this Saturday--waiting for film to come back and then I may scan a few shots if there are any of interest (I can’t wait to get my digital back!). The show I enjoyed the most was the Jasper Johns at Matthew Marks. I was impressed, and didn't expect to be. Grey as it was, there was something very subtle and tender in the work. Not sure how MM managed to get Jasper Johns, but I find that I've been pleased with every show I've seen there.

The other big draw was Gregory Crewdson at Luhring Augustine. Beneath the Roses, they describe as "pointedly theatrical yet intensely real panoramic images," in which Crewdson explores "the recesses of the American psyche and the disturbing dramas at play within quotidian environments." Blah. I have to say that I'm impressed as usual by the technical perfection of the photos. But I find that his choice of subjects is absolutely gratuitous. He seems to mimic Jeff Wall, and again, while he may do this with a kind of technical brilliance, there is little heart. His choice of having each subject stare off abjectly, blandly, and passively may stem from a desire to see Americans as passive victims of their "banal" lives, or their "dislocation", but I found it heartless and furthermore insincere. Not to mention uninstructive.

This from the gallery description:
Crewdson’s latest project falls into the tradition of classic American genres that explore the conflation of theater and everyday life. His tableaux, in their fine detail and focus on the perplexing psychology of vernacular America, evoke the paintings of Edward Hopper and the photographs of Walker Evans and Diane Arbus. At the same time, in their vast scope and relentless grip, Crewdson’s images inevitably bring to mind the world of film—particularly the work of Alfred Hitchcock, Douglas Sirk, and Terrence Malick. Indeed, Crewdson’s process and approach are patently cinematic. Beneath the Roses has taken shape over the course of three years with the collaboration of a full production team. His projects are made both on studio soundstages and on location in various small towns. After the photograph is taken, Crewdson continues his obsessive process in post-production, using state-of-the-art digital composting and special effects. And in the end, like film at its best, Crewdson’s fictions, elaborately staged and plotted though they may be, convey an experience that is intensely real.

I don't think he wants these to appear real, and unlike Wall, or even Cindy Sherman, I really feel that he is manipulative and false. Not sure why it bothered me so much, but I found myself shaking my head and thinking that's just stupid...

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