Please wait
William Wegman, Crow, 1970  92.15
William Wegman, Crow, 1970. Gelatin silver print, 10 3/16 × 10 1/4 in. (25.9 × 26 cm). Edition no. 11/70. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from the Mrs. Percy Uris Purchase Fund and the Photography Committee  92.15 For Teachers
© William Wegman

about this work

At first glance, this photograph appears relatively straightforward: a stuffed parrot is positioned on a pedestal, illuminated by dramatic, ominous lighting. Upon closer inspection, though, it becomes clear that there is a sight gag occurring in the background. The shadow cast by the parrot is not the parrot’s own, but rather that of a crow. The photograph functions, on one level, as a visual joke, delivered with William Wegman’s characteristic deadpan irony. At the same time, by demonstrating how a photographic image is not necessarily a “true” transcription of reality, Crow engages in a distinctly postmodern critique of traditional assumptions about the photographic medium.

look closer

Describe what you see in this photograph.

Where do you think this picture was taken?

What do you notice about the bird and its shadow?

What stands out to you?

Activities

92
William Wegman, Crow, 1970  92.15 For Teachers

In Crow, William Wegman plays a trick on the viewer. A stuffed parrot is positioned on a pedestal, illuminated by dramatic, ominous lighting, but upon closer inspection it becomes clear that the shadow cast by the parrot is not the parrot’s own, but rather that of a crow. Although photography is used to document places, people, and events, photographs can be manipulated in the same way a painting or drawing might be.

Think about how Wegman uses lighting and shadows to change this photograph. What are some other techniques that photographers can use to change or play with their photographs? Brainstorm a list, and then using Photoshop or iPhoto, have students manipulate an image. What changes did they make? How did they change the mood or meaning of the photograph?

Read more