When I was an art major in high school, Paul Klee was my favorite artist—especially the fishy phase he went through in the 1920s. Postcards of Around the Fish, with its straight-up fish-on-a-platter composition, The Angler (1921), with his graceful fishing line, and the fish-like birds, hand crank, and watery aquatic background of Twittering Machine (1922) all maintained central locations on my bulletin board, holding their own next to pictures of David Bowie in his Aladdin Sane phase and other teenage ephemera.
1. Paul Klee. Around the Fish. 1926
I was kind of fish-obsessed in general back then—an attempt to seem more adult after my penguin-obsessed junior high school years, I think—but little did I know how prevalent these inhabitants of the watery depths are in art. Go fishing in the Museum’s collection, and you’ll pull in quite a haul. Case in point: one of Alexander Calder’s masterpiece mobiles (currently on view in the galleries).
2. Alexander Calder. Lobster Trap and Fish Tail. 1939
(Did you know Calder’s father and grandfather were also sculptors? Both were known for their public installations of works, like Calder’s grandfather’s statue of William Penn on top of Philadelphia’s City Hall tower. Read all about it.)
Or the costumes Marc Chagall designed for a production of Rachmaninoff’s opera Aleko, which takes place on the bank of a river.
1. Marc Chagall. Two Fish and a Veteran. 1942
Or this artful take on “Look what I caught!” by Dutch artist Emmy Andriesse.
4. Emmy Andriesse. White Fish and Arm. 1950
Oh yeah, which reminds me: fish are also great to have for dinner.
5. Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Fish Knife and Fork. c. 1900
Here are the perfect utensils to inspire your next elaborate dinner party. Why not consider a poached salmon course sometime after the consommé and grilled quail courses (preceding the cold asparagus vinaigrette, red-wine braised Moulard duck leg with herbed spaetzle, and raspberry mousse and/or almond blueberry tart courses, of course)?
Yes, indeed, there is a lot of fish-related fun to be had at MoMA.