Gregory Crewdson’s Spring Awakening

The photographer returns to the art world with a show at Gagosian.

Gregory Crewdson

The photographer Gregory Crewdson is best known for his chilling cinematic tableaux, which he produces on soundstages with movie-size crews. But in 1996, when his first marriage was falling apart, he retreated alone to a cabin in the Berkshires and created very different work. Those small pictures of fireflies in the dark, he says now, are among the most personal and pivotal he has ever made, despite—or maybe due to—their lack of pretense. “Sanctuary,” a body of work shown in 2010, coincided with the demise of his second marriage, at which point Crewdson returned to the woods. This time, he convalesced in an old deconsecrated church. “I nursed myself back to life,” he says. “For a long time, I didn’t make pictures.” When he resumed, it was again on a more intimate scale—with a small team, on location, and using friends and family as subjects. The result, Cathedral of the Pines (January 28 through February 27, 2016), at Gagosian, in New York, seems to be both mired in winter and exultant of spring. “There’s a great rebirth in these pictures,” Crewdson says. He adds, with a laugh: “At least, I see them that way.”