Over the past seven years, Gregory Crewdson has become known for, and inextricably linked with, a certain type of hyperstylized, highly staged still-life photography. There are people in his eerily lit American Gothic tableaux of estranged suburbia, but they look like inanimate dolls arranged by a very finicky puppeteer. In fact, Crewdson’s pictures are movie stills—his epic shoots involve a massive crew, an elaborate set, and professional actors—without the movie. Now, with the publication of his new monograph, Sanctuary (Abrams), and with accompanying shows at Gagosian Gallery in New York and White Cube in London beginning September 23, Crewdson has lost the actors, much of the crew, and all of the color. This new black and white series focuses on a set that he did not build himself—the famed Cinecittà movie studio in Rome, where Ben-Hur, 8½, and Gangs of New York were shot. But even without the signature Crewdsonian elements, you can tell the photos are his by the palpable sense that the world depicted is just slightly different from the one we live in. “As much as you try,” admits Crewdson, “you can’t get away from yourself.”

Cinecitta copyright Gregory Crewdson/ Courtesy of Gagosian Gallery