History of Gyotaku:
“gyo” = fish - “taku” = impression
Gyotaku originated about 100 years ago in Japan as a way for sports fisherman to record the exact size and species of fish they had caught. The fisherman could hire an artist to make a print of the fish using colored inks or paints. The inks and paints used were water based, and more importantly nontoxic so that the fish could be washed off and then eaten. Today, sports fisherman often display gyotaku as decorations in their homes, or they keep them as a sort of journal to document their success in the sport. Many Japanese fishing magazines hold contests each year for the largest fish caught for each species. The winners of these competitions are chosen by the gyotaku submitted.
In 1950's the Association of Gyotaku was formed in Japan, and the first exhibition was held at the Matsuya Gallery in Ginzas Tokyo. The first gyotaku exhibition held outside of Japan took place in 1956 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Recently gyotaku has become popular in the United States. Along the docks in San Francisco, and also in other parts of the country, artists wait for the sports fisherman boats to bring their catch back from the ocean. Many fishers on the boats choose to have prints made of their fish, rather than having it stuffed and mounted by a taxidermist.
Links to Florida Gyotaku
T. James Watkins
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