James Prosek: Ocean Fishes

atlantic sailfish painting by James Prosek

October 13, 2012–January 21, 2013
Art of Science Gallery

Dubbed “the Audubon of the fishing world” by The New York Times, Connecticut artist James Prosek is known for his detailed and arresting watercolor paintings, which primarily feature fish and other ocean creatures. He showcases his personal impressions of marine beauties such as a 15-foot-long blue marlin through life-size paintings. Through direct observation and imagination, Prosek reveals the subtle colors and forms of fishes often hidden from our view beneath the water’s surface.

Published in his book Ocean Fishes (Rizzoli New York, October 2012), Prosek’s paintings portray Atlantic game fish as they are plucked from the ocean, still shining with the hues of life. Greatly important to his work were the in-person encounters that allowed him to depict the fishes as they appeared in these fleeting moments. He even views some paintings as “self-portraits,” as he sometimes sees his own reflection in the eye of a fish. Following on the work of naturalists John James Audubon and Louis Agassiz Fuertes, Prosek’s work dares onlookers to consider the nature of representation and how it guides our interpretations of the natural world.


Prosek brought his images to life through consultations with scientists and fishermen, observation, and extensive travel. He visited Nova Scotia, the eastern coast of the United States, and even the Cape Verde Islands for his research. In a recent issue of Nature Conservancy Magazine, Prosek explained that it is important to him to “paint fish that are important to humans”—specifically food and game fish, some of which are exploited. In doing so, he makes a subtle statement about the importance of conservation. His work has wide appeal, for his paintings spark the interest of artists, naturalists, professional and amateur fishermen, conservationists, and others who are intrigued by the creatures of the ocean.


The exciting Art of Science Gallery exhibit James Prosek: Ocean Fishes brings you a sampling of these stunning, life-size, watercolor images, including an Atlantic sailfish, king mackerel, mako shark, swordfish, tarpon, and more. You won’t want to miss this exhibit, open only from October 13 through January 21. On the evening of December 5, Prosek will visit the Academy for a talk and film showing that will further showcase his artistry. Stay tuned for more details.


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