Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009)
Tempera on composition board
Overall: 17 5/16 × 41 in. (44 × 104.1 cm)
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Benno C. Schmidt, in memory of Mr. Josiah Marvel, first owner of this picture
Rights and Reproductions Information
© artist or artist’s estate
When many American artists were turning toward abstraction, Andrew Wyeth remained a realist, producing precise, evocative paintings of the places he knew best. Winter Fields depicts a dead, frozen crow Wyeth found near his home in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. He took the bird into his studio, sketched it, and then painted it in exquisite detail from a worm’s-eye view, which magnifies the bird relative to its surroundings and thereby suggests the wider significance of its death. Completed during World War II, Winter Fields recalls similarly unflinching photographs of corpses lying on battlefields. Yet Wyeth resented comparisons of his work to photography and said he despised cameras. In fact, despite its apparent precision, Winter Fields subtly distorts reality. The distant trees are as sharply focused as the crow in the foreground—an impossibility for both the human eye and the camera lens. This visual effect compresses the pictorial space toward the surface, and is accentuated by the lacelike, overlapping blades of grass, which create a delicate surface pattern.