Kaid Benfield Archive


Beneath the Roses – unsentimental small-town America

Kaid Benfield

Posted March 10, 2008 at 6:41PM

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Beneath the Roses, by Gregory Crewdson

Ron Thomas, former director of the once-great Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission, gets credit for alerting me to a riveting new book of photography, Beneath the Roses, by Gregory Crewdson.  As Esquire puts it in a highly adjectival review

Cinematically lit. Dirty. Godforsaken. Unexplained. Careful. Quiet, even. Lonely. Really, really lonely. Where’s Waldo-esque. Damp. Heartbreaking. Haunted. Profane. 


Unititled, Summer 2004, by Gregory Crewdson Untitled, Summer 2003, by Gregory Crewdson 

These visions of small-town America tell a different story of abandonment from that of Katrina, but the survivors in Crewdson’s work have something in common with the subjects of my previous post, Kim and Scott Roberts in New Orleans:  their world has been forgotten, too.


The reviewers say it better than I can, so do read one.  But Crewdson, the anti-Rockwell, owes something to that American icon, and to Edward Hopper, too.  His work seems equal parts found and staged, and highly deliberate.  It’s designed to make us think, and it certainly succeeds in my case.