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Directed by Ben Shapiro

United States 2012 78 mins.

Gregory Crewdson’s riveting photographs are elaborately staged, elegant narratives compressed into a single, large-scale image, many of them taken at twilight. Set in small towns in western Massachusetts or in meticulously recreated interior spaces, his strange tableaus call to mind the haunting worlds of Alfred Hitchcock, David Lynch, and Edward Hopper. Shapiro’s fascinating profile includes stories from Crewdson’s childhood (in which he tried to overhear his psychologist father’s patients), his summers in the bucolic countryside (which he now imbues with a sense of dread and foreboding), and his encounter with Diane Arbus’s work in 1972 at age 10. Novelists Rick Moody and Russell Banks and fellow photographer Laurie Simmons comment on the motivation behind their friend’s haunting images. But Crewdson remains his own best critic: “Every artist has one central story to tell. The struggle is to tell and retell that story over again—and to challenge that story. It’s the defining story of who you are.”

Genres: Documentary

Appears in: On Art and Artists