Large orange fish, coffee-can tail, decorated fins

  • Unidentified, Large orange fish, coffee-can tail, decorated fins, before 1997,Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Chuck and Jan Rosenak and museum purchase made possible by Elizabeth Stevens, 1997.124.200

Carved fish decoys are one of the earliest forms of American folk art. Hunters around the Bering Sea first used small bone or ivory decoys for ice fishing around 1000 AD. They believed that the decoys embodied the innua, or inner spirit of the fish. The practice spread to upstate New York and the Great Lakes, where it became a tourist industry with many communities growing around prime fishing areas. Ice fishing was banned in 1905, however, because the popularity of the sport had brought about a serious decline in large game fish. During the Depression, many hunters and fishermen turned again to fish spearing for survival. The decoys from this period are simpler, focusing on realistic shapes, colors, and movement rather than fanciful decoration (Steven Michaan, American Fish Decoys, 2003).

Title
Large orange fish, coffee-can tail, decorated fins
Artist
Date
before 1997
Location
Dimensions
2 1412 123 12 in. (5.731.88.9 cm)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of Chuck and Jan Rosenak and museum purchase made possible by Elizabeth Stevens

Classifications
Keywords
  • Animal – fish
Object Number
1997.124.200
Palette
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI

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