cover image Beneath the Roses

Beneath the Roses

, ; preface by Russell Banks. . Abrams, $60 (140pp) ISBN 978-0-8109-9380-8

In these 49 elaborately staged photographs, Crewdson (Twilight ) reveals his vision of America in lush and brooding images of dusk, each one bristling with atmosphere: a young boy stares at a naked woman standing in the open door of her trailer; a woman, observed through a motel window, looks at a baby sleeping on the bed; a man stands in a deserted intersection in the rain, his car door open behind him. Although Crewdson's work is frequently interpreted cinematically, and stylistic comparisons are drawn between him and David Lynch and Wes Anderson, in the book's preface, writer Banks argues that analogies to the movies do the photographer a disservice. According to Banks, looking at Crewdson's photographs resembles reading fiction more than anything else; it is not a passive experience (such as watching a movie) but an invitation to actively imagine alongside the artist. Crewdson's sets do boast the budgets and crew normally associated with movies, however, and this collection includes 23 extra pages of set drawings, location shots and images of the actors and props used to create the photographs—perfectly in keeping with a body of work that, as Banks states, “tests the limits of realism while making no effort to disguise its artificiality.” (May)