Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Catch and Release: A History of Fishing


This exhibit seeks to show how the depiction of fishing over time is a representation of how art has developed and changed throughout the years. From New Kingdom Egypt to ancient Rome, from France to Maine, fishing has been a part of life that has changed throughout time, and along with that, the depiction of fishing in art has changed as well. This is a good example of how art has changed throughout the years because these works shows the same act in very different ways. By using images from Egypt, Japan, France, and the United States, all from different time periods, one can see how the art has changed throughout the years. First being on a wall in a tomb in ancient New Kingdom Egypt, then to Japanese women fishing from a boat, to a very colorful Andre Derain painting of a harbor, all the way to Winslow Homer and Gustave Courbet’s fishing boats one can see the change in how art was done. The transition of culture and how we have developed artistically can be seen even in 5 different paintings about fishing.  It is in the simplicity of the everyday where we can see the beauty of creation. 

Édouard Manet, Fishing, ca. 1862–63, Oil on canvas, 57.10

Édouard Manet uses incredible lighting and color in this work “Fishing”. His use of light causes the viewer to scan over the entire painting when viewing it. His depiction of men fishing out of a boat while a young boy fishes from the bank and a couple looks at something from the opposite bank, is a great example of what fishing was to that culture. The three males in the boat are not well dressed or groomed and it is obvious that they work hard for a living. This is a great representation of how the impact fishing had on a culture had changed since ancient Egypt.

Unknown, Nakht and Family Fishing and Fowling, Tomb of Nakht, ca. 1400–1390 B.C, Tempera on paper, 15.5.19e, l–m



An unknown artist from New Kingdom Egypt painted this on a tomb wall. Fishing must have been an important part of this mans life because he decided to take it with him into death. This is just a part taken from the whole wall and shows that fishing was a large part of this family's life. It was obviously an important part of their culture, so much so as to keep it with him forever. This is an example of very early forms of fishing along with early forms of painting. 

Kitagawa Utamaro, Fishing, Edo period (1615–18680, late 18th century, Polychrome woodblock print; ink and color on paper, JP1095c

Kitagawa Utamaro creates this woodblock print depicting 2 women and a man fishing from a boat with traditional Japanese clothing on. This shows how women were an integral part of the culture and wellbeing of the family. They were heavily involved in gathering on of the most important things for them to survive. Also they were not separated from the men, they worked side by side to collect the necessary things for them to thrive. 

André Derain, Fishing Boats Collioure, 1905, Oil on canvas, 1982.179.29

Andre Derain paints this vibrant image of a fishing port in France in the early 1900’s. From his high vantage point the viewer can see the whole bustling port and all it has to offer. One can easily see his use of space and vantage point as your eye is drawn over the whole piece. Derain uses color to bring the painting to life and give it depth even through the cartoonish feel. This was obviously a coastal fishing town so the importance of fishing is evident in this painting. 

Winslow Homer, Fishing Boats, Key West, 1903, Watercolor and graphite on off-white wove paper, 10.228.1

Winslow Homer uses “Fishing Boats, Key West” to show, again, how fishing is a very important part of everyday life. He uses his watercolor to enhance the perspective of the viewer. It is shown from a lower vantage point than the deck of the boat so the viewer is just above water level. This is just further emphasizing how beautifully simple a boat coming back to harbor after a long day can be. Although faceless, you can see the toil the man in red has endured through his occupation of being on the water everyday. 

Gustave Courbet, The Fishing Boat, 1865, Oil on canvas, 99.11.3

“The Fishing Boat” by Gustave Courbet is a wonderful representation of the work put into fishing. This boat, rigged and filled with equipment, although a little ragged and run down is still facing the water, ready to go. The focus on the boat rather than the surrounding water or shore is the first thing you notice when looking at this painting. His use of depth is another thing you notice when viewing this, it puts the vastness of the ocean in the painting.  

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