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Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. Photography by Dwight Primiano.

The Lobster Wars

Artist: Bo Bartlett (born 1955)
Date: 2007
80 x 112 in. (203.2 x 284.5 cm)
Framed: 87 x 119 x 1 3/4 in. (221 x 302.3 x 4.4 cm)
Medium: Oil on linen
Credit Line: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, 2007.193
Not on View
Accession Number: 2007.193
Provenance(Pilkington Olsoff Fine Arts, Inc, New York, NY); purchased by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR, 2007
Label TextDonning a blood-stained apron and a hat reminiscent of a Viking’s helmet, the fisherman stares purposefully out at the viewer. The simple boat features a red sail with a pirate’s skull and crossbones, and a lobster cage rests in the stern of the vessel. Without depicting a single lobster, the painting speaks to the presence of these animals. In his title, Bo Bartlett alludes to the sometimes violent conflicts that arise among lobster fisherman. For generations, families have squabbled over fishing territories, cutting each other’s lines, encircling boats as a form of intimidation, and on some occasions firing warning shots at rivals. At a moment when lobster prices were falling and tensions among cash-strapped fishermen were on the rise, Bartlett’s playful allusions to pirates and Vikings link these present-day sea farers to historically fierce warriors of the high seas.