Gregory Crewdson “Beneath the Roses”

2 February 2017

Gregory Crewdson’s “Untitled” from his Beneath the Roses photography collection introduces this facade of masking personal pain and the eventual unmasking of one’s true feelings.

“Untitled” displays a dimly lit bedroom in a typical home. The light from the blue moon shines into the bedroom, complementing the subtle, dark coloring of purple and blue tones. A woman in a white nightgown sits on the edge of an unmade bed with its crumpled blankets and wrinkled sheets and pillows askew. An uprooted rosebush, bare without its flowers or leaves, lies beside her on the bed.She looks down with an air of longing and remorse towards her hands, which hold a pile of rose petals. On the indigo-colored carpet, near her dirt covered legs and feet, there is a trail of petals, leaves, and stems, leading into the bright living room. The double French doors of the living room are wide open, inviting the audience into this organized room.

Gregory Crewdson “Beneath the Roses” Essay Example

This room is tidy, except for a trail of remnants from the rosebush on the floor. The living room has a different glow, apparent with the use of more inviting yellow and green tones; nothing has been uprooted here.At a quick glance, Crewdson’s use of small details and contrasting rooms help bolster the theme of masking personal issues from public observation. The woman in “Untitled” has been experiencing personal pain. Her facial features display feelings of remorse, depression, and emptiness. She is the only human figure in the photograph, drawing the viewer to focus on her and adding a sense of alienation to the woman. A sense of isolation adds to her personal pain; she is lonely.

The bedside table allows the audience to infer that she is in pain by displaying her coping methods: prescription pills, cigarettes and alcohol.There are three prescription pill bottles on this table, along with over ten colorful pills on the surface. Multiple cigarettes are in an ashtray, and a glass of amber liquid is near the table. She may be suffering from depression and is taking anti-depressants, or she may be ill, or may have illegally obtained prescription pills. She may be smoking to deal with anxiety, and she may be using alcohol to numb her pain. The bedside table affirms that she is experiencing personal pain and looking towards outside sources to deal with this pain.Crewdson uses these details in the photograph to create a story of her personal pain.

The rosebush, its petals, stems, and leaves are representative of her pain. Roses can be symbols of romance or celebration: one can receive roses from a lover on an anniversary or from a loved one on a birthday. However, her expression is not that of happiness, which is viable as roses can also be used to send condolences in response to a death. One characteristic of the rose in this photograph is not its bright red petals or green leaves, but the brown, uprooted rosebush.Its roots are no longer in the ground and keeping it alive; it is dead and absent from the earth where it once was planted. The concept of love and death associated with roses and the sight of this uprooted rosebush symbolize a loss in the form of a romantic relationship ending or a lover dying. The woman has experienced a loss.

The rosebush’s location on the bed supports the idea that it is replacing a loved one. The rosebush is not located in the middle of the bed, but on the right side of bed, opposite of the pillows.The rosebush is replacing the individual with whom this woman shared the bed, the individual who is no longer in her life. The mirror on the bedroom wall examines the public perception of her private life. Looking only at its reflection, the audience cannot tell the room is in a mess; the rosebush and the dirt trail are not apparent to the audience. In the mirror, only the back of woman’s head is evident. Her face and her emotions are hidden from the mirror.

It appears as if she is doing an ordinary task; she could very well be sitting on the bed, reading a book.She turns her back to the mirror and denies it a true reflection. The contrast between the bedroom and living room highlight the differences between public perception and private reality. Living rooms are often used to entertain and socialize guests. When entering a house, guests are often ushered into the living room, where they will then take a seat on the couch, become comfortable, and converse with others. The living room is a public room and open to guests. In contrast, the bedroom is a private room in the house.

It is a place of rest in the night and relaxation during the day.It is for private and intimate activities, reserved for its occupant or occupants. Guests are often not invited into the host’s bedroom for socialization. This photograph displays an orderly and peaceful living room, a direct contrast to the disorder and unrest apparent in the bedroom, a facade to the woman’s reality. However, this can be an incorrect representation of the truth. The living room in the photograph symbolizes the faultiness of public perception. The luminosity of the living room reveals an important aspect of public perception.

The brightness makes it appear as though a spotlight is shining in the living room.In this photograph, the spotlight is on the woman’s public life and brings to light a superficial aspect, such as her automatic response to “How are you? ” This spotlight does not bring to light any suffering she is experiencing privately. The spotlight on the living room also highlights how individuals place importance on the public’s opinions. Many individuals often convey the idea that they are in control of their life. In public, they do not want to appear psychologically or emotionally weak, whether it means crying or opening up about personal struggles. True feelings are often ignored for the sake of a public image.The concept of the tidy living room with a trail of rose pieces displays the woman’s transition to an increase of transparency between her private and public self.

The couch, the chair, and the stove in the living room have no clutter on them and are clean, which is in contrast with the few piles of dirt, rose petals, and leaves on the cream-colored carpet. This trail of dirt symbolizes her private issues slowly becoming more public. When asked, “How are you? ” she may now reply, “Not so well. ” Instead of masking her feelings with a smile, her countenance may embody her true emotions of sadness and longing.Though this photograph emphasizes the prevalence of masking one’s true feelings, it also demonstrates the possibility of cracking under the pressure of concealment and allowing emotions to become public; the trail becomes the crack in her countenance. While the living room symbolizes her public self, the cluttered, messy bedroom symbolizes her private self, where her problems are prevalent and her pain is unbearable. The chair in the bedroom has a white shirt thrown over its side, while the bedside table’s drawer is not closed all the way.

The bed is not made.While once an organized room, it is now in disarray. The woman’s main priority is not to hang the shirt in the closet, close the drawer, or make the bed. Her focus is not on the menial tasks of everyday life, but on her own issues. This lack of organization in the bedroom symbolizes the lack of organization present in her private life. She is overwhelmed with personal problems and has not been able to approach them. However, in this photograph, she finally is able to face her personal problems, displayed by her contemplation at the pile of rose petals in her hands.

At times, personal issues and problems can no longer be covered up, and the truth needs to be faced. As she begins to confront these issues inside her, she begins to open up and let these feelings escape from her bedroom. As the woman’s perception changes, she allows her emotions to become public. In “Untitled”, the living room takes up about 1/7 of the frame, in contrast to the bedroom. The image of the bedroom is vast in comparison to the living room. This displays the importance of the woman’s private self. The living room’s small size conveys that the importance of her public perception is minimal.

She begins to expose her emotions and does not mask her true feelings and no longer hides her personal pain and problems. This woman in Gregory Crewdson’s photograph “Untitled” from Beneath the Roses experiences personal pain yet keeps it private with minimal public exposure. She portrays two truths: responding typically with “I’m fine”, while holding onto her private emotions of sadness and depression. She opens her bedroom door and exposes the living room, and her true emotions come out to the public. By doing so, the woman no longer continues to mask her private emotions for the sake of a public image but exposes the truth.

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