Quote and Credit

Quote and Credit

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Puma by Michigan Carver Fred Alten c. 1910-1945 Collection Jim Linderman





Collectors Joe and Lee Dumas discovered 156 carvings by Mr. Alten hidden in a backyard shack 30 years after his death.  There were 14 hand built cages holding the menagerie in darkness since Alten passed in 1945.  Collector Julie Hall wrote in the first catalog devoted to the work. "Alten's animals were "captured" in green wood cages with metal bars.  It was apparent that, once Fred finished a dozen or so animals, he stood them in cages, and then permanently fitted the metal bars around them in a rigid wooden frame."  "They were very strong, and I had to smash some of the animals to get them out…" Dumas is quoted in The Detroit News in 1986.  It appears now this figure was one of them.  I was told the tail was likely broken at that time.  It also explains why the figure was photographed here (Country Living Magazine September 1986) on their shelves positioned with no tail showing!  I also now have the tail.

Over the years, Alten's works have been added to many museums, some through purchase, others by generous donations.  A dozen standard works on folk and outsider artists include his work. 

Alten created his animals from several pieces of wood mortised together.  Joined portions are seen here.  He also often covered the carvings in wax while painting them and used a comb or pointed object to create a "hair" effect.  A good portion of this has been lost since the little fella was photographed, but it has knocked around a good while.  The puma was an orphan.


Shown here in Country Living Magazine 1986.

Puma Fred Alten c. 1920-1945.  Wood, was, original paint.  Collection Jim Linderman

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