Madeline Shiff

Wiltz at Work

On view
Floor 7



Oil on canvas

Overall: 18 × 15in. (45.7 × 38.1 cm)

Accession number

Credit line
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase

Rights and reproductions
© artist or artist’s estate


Visual Description

Wiltz at Work is a painting by Madeline Shiff that is 18 inches tall and 15 inches wide. Shiff portrays her husband, painter Arnold Wiltz, with his easel in the center of a small, windowless painting studio. Wiltz is shown from behind sitting on a wooden stool, bent over a small light wooden table to his left in the act of mixing paint. Resting on the easel is a green landscape painting featuring a body of water and a bare tree in the foreground. The natural world depicted inside Wiltz’s painting is in contrast to his relatively blank and windowless surroundings.

The nearly empty room has warm, orange-brown wood floors and blue-grey walls. The back wall is a pentagonal shape, symmetrically framing Wiltz and his canvas in a manner that emphasizes the compact size and barrenness of the studio. The only other objects in the room are the stool Wiltz sits on, his table, and an empty frame leaning against the back wall. Wiltz’s clothes, blue pants and an orange shirt and socks, mirror the colors of the space; the limited color palette adds to the illustration-like quality of Shiff’s painting style and the restricted feeling that she creates in her depiction of this studio. The room’s undecorated walls have a dynamic texture comprising various shades of muted blue and grey paint. This simple, yet painterly wall is punctuated by the vivid landscape painting and the top of the easel.