This arresting sculpture is an early work by Karoo Ashevak. Its only distinct features are a single eye and a large, toothy, open mouth, both carefully detailed. The sculpture is signed in syllabics, confirming a viewer's immediate impression that the work is by Karoo. Presumably it depicts a spirit.
Karoo Ashevak | Cyclops figure | c. 1965 | Alaska on Madison
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George Tataniq, Drum Dancer with Attendant Spirits, c. 1975
Stone, antler, 9 x 10 1/2 x 2 1/4 in. (22.9 x 26.7 x 5.7 cm)
A massive drum dancer has two helping spirits in the form of birds on his shoulders.
In the 1986 catalogue for the exhibition The Keewatin Spirit, author and collector Norman Zepp speaks of “a purity of line [in Tataniq’s works] which elevates his sculpture beyond the purely descriptive.” Both Tataniq’s images of the empirically observable world and his images of the supernatural are characterised by a monumental weight, and as here, a purity of line, eye for plane and volume, and exceptional sure-footedness in his address of all three.
This sculpture is published in Harold Seidelman's and James Turner's 1993 text The Inuit Imagination: Arctic Myth and Sculpture.
A closely-related work to this sculpture was chosen for the cover of the 1992 revised and updated publication of George Swinton’s classic reference work Sculpture of the Inuit.
George Tataniq | Drum Dancer with Attendant Spirits | c. 1975 | Alaska on Madison
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Davidialuk Alashua Amittu, Legend of the eagle who took the small girl to be his wife, c. 1965
Stone, 8 1/2 x 10 1/4 x 3 1/2 in. (21.6 x 26 x 8.9 cm)
Davidialuk wrote down the legend depicted by this sculpture, reproduced below:
Legend of the eagle who took a small girl to be his wife.
“This is the story of three young girls who played at being wives. One made believe she was the wife of a killer whale, the second of an eagle and the third, of a stone.
The first girl was taken by a real whale to an island across the sea. He kept her there for many days as his wife. One day, while the whale slept, the girl spotted a boat in the distance. Excited, she cried aloud, "A boat! A boat!" She realised her mistake, however, when the whale wakened and asked: “What was that you saw?" She lied quickly, telling him that it was only a fox and a rabbit walking together and that he should go back to sleep. This time, she waited quietly until the boat drew near and she was able to signal to be picked up. Even though the whale wakened and gave chase, he was too late to recapture his wife. The girl believes that she was taken to be the wife of a whale because of the game she played with the bone of the whale and she has never played that game again.
The second girl was pretending to be the wife of an eagle, using a bone of the eagle. A real eagle took her away to a high cliff from which she could not escape. After several days, she conceived the idea of braiding a rope of sinew. The eagle was a good provider and she was never hungry nor short of sinew. It took her several days of braiding and the work was so strenuous that the flesh of her fingertips wore off, exposing the bone. The eagle had great pity for her, not suspecting the cause of her difficulty. Finally, the rope was long enough and her only problem now was that the eagle was never away long enough for her to climb down the cliff. To make sure he would be away longer than usual, she sent him to get her some caribou meat. She knew the caribou were far away. The eagle, who enjoyed pleasing his wife, left right away and the girl he had taken to be his wife climbed down the cliff and ran safely to her home. Like the first girl, she believed this had happened because she had been playing at being a wife with the bone of an eagle and she never played that game again.
The third girl was pretending to be the wife of a stone. Singing to herself, she climbed a mountain with a stone in her arms. As she climbed higher, her arms turned to stone but she kept on climbing and singing. She didn't stop singing even when her legs had turned to solid stone. Soon her whole body, even her head, turned into stone and she could no longer climb or sing. She stayed in the same spot forever. Playing the wife of a stone, she had turned into stone and there was nothing anyone could do to bring her back to life.”
Davidialuk Alashua Amittu | Legend of the eagle who took the small girl to be his wife | c. 1965 | Alaska on Madison
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John Kavik, Mother and child, c. 1980
Stone, 9 1/2 x 3 x 4 in. (24.1 x 7.6 x 10.2 cm)
This is an unusually complex carving for John Kavik. The structure of the composition, with generous negative space between the bodies of mother and child, is reminiscent of John Tiktak's mother-and-child sculptures. But the angular heads and faceted bodies are pure Kavik.
John Kavik | Mother and child | c. 1980 | Alaska on Madison
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Qavaroak Tunnillie, Sedna, 1980s
Stone, 20 1/2 x 11 x 9 in. (52.1 x 27.9 x 22.9 cm)
Qavaroak Tunnillie was one of the greatest first-generation Cape Dorset carvers. His carvings were exceptionally dynamic and fully realized in the round (as opposed to the many carvings that were made to be viewed only from the front). This Sedna is exceptional in many ways. Sedna, the ruling spirit of the seas, controlled the marine mammals and fish, and thus much of the Inuit's food supply. Traditionally, sedna was depicted with amputated fingers. (For the legend of Sedna, see https://www.alaskaonmadison.com/exhibition/3/press_release/ ). This carving shows Sedna with amputated fingers on her left hand, but with complete fingers on the right hand. In addition, Sedna is shown here wearing a long, flowing cape, an uncommon garment among the Inuit. Finally, instead of Sedna's traditional long braids, her hair has been cut short. We can only speculate about the variant of the Sedna legend that the artist based this enigmatic work on.
Qavaroak Tunnillie | Sedna | 1980s | Alaska on Madison
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Kenojuak Ashevak (attributed), Swimming Sedna with Plaited Hair, 1970-1975
Stone, 9 1/2 x 20 x 6 1/2 in. (24.1 x 50.8 x 16.5 cm)
In her sculptural works, Kenojuak's subjects were much the same as those found in her prints and drawings. Contrastingly, however, her carvings are much more solid and bulky than the more embellished style of her graphic works. Conceived of in the distinctive Markham Bay stone, the work depicts the Sea Goddess, Sedna, swimming through the Arctic waters with her hair gracefully streamlining down her back in a great plait.
For more information on the Sedna legend, see https://www.alaskaonmadison.com/exhibition/3/press_release/
Although there are very few known sculptures of people signed by Kenojuak, the Markham Bay stone and the eyes on this sedna are consistent with a number of Kenojuak sculptures. For works by Kenojuak with strikingly similar nose and lips, see https://www.invaluable.com/auction-lot/kenojuak-ashevak-inuit-quartzite-woman-walrus-cub-70-c-68e4fd485e?objectID=135429400&algIndex=undefined&queryID=51dbbb57c1e2e65a2da8ea34a2b8200f and https://www.invaluable.com/auction-lot/kenojuak-ashevak-1927-e7-1035-cape-dorsetwoman-an-310-c-a7d1ddd2f3?objectID=74447139&algIndex=undefined&queryID=dc3543c2517d36001f7eb2eca1fcc567 .
References: For other examples of Kenojuak's sculptural works, see Jean Blodgett, Kenojuak, (Toronto: Firefly Books / Mintmark Press Ltd., 1985), figs. xxix-xxiv, pp. 67-70. See fig. xxix for another depiction of the Sea Goddess.
Kenojuak Ashevak (attributed) | Swimming Sedna with Plaited Hair | 1970-1975 | Alaska on Madison
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Billy Nasogaluak, Eroding polar bear, 2008
Stone, 16 x 8 x 5 in. (40.6 x 20.3 x 12.7 cm)
This is one of a series of sculptures by Nasogaluak that decried the degradation of the Arctic environment, with its attendant catastrophic effect on the Arctic animals, caused by climate change.
Billy Nasogaluak | Eroding polar bear | 2008 | Alaska on Madison
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Thomas Suvaaraq, Powerful shaman
Antler and fur, 11 1/2 x 6 x 3 in. (29.2 x 15.2 x 7.6 cm)
A fanciful representation of a shaman. Thomas Suvaaraq was known as both a sculptor and a printmaker. His innovative use of fur and antler expanded the possibilities of working with antler.
Thomas Suvaaraq | Powerful shaman | | Alaska on Madison
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John Tiktak, Man leaning over
Stone, 4 3/4 x 1 1/4 x 3 1/2 in. (12.1 x 3.2 x 8.9 cm)
This charming small figure nevertheless exhibits classic Tiktak features -- the face with rounded cheeks and generous negative space between the arms and the body.
John Tiktak | Man leaning over | | Alaska on Madison
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John Tiktak, Rounded man
Stone, 7 x 5 1/2 x 2 1/2 in. (17.8 x 14 x 6.3 cm)
A compact compendium of Tiktak traits -- classic face, abstract body, strong presence.
John Tiktak | Rounded man | | Alaska on Madison
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Abraham Etungat, Polar bear
Stone, 7 x 12 in. (17.8 x 30.5 cm)
Abraham Etungat was known primarily for his "birds of spring," tall, graceful birds with razor-thin wings carved in deep green serpentine. This polar bear is their diametrical opposite. It is carved from Andrew Gordon Bay marble, a hard, white quartz. Cape Dorset artists generally disliked it as a carving medium, because it was much more difficult to carve than serpentine. When serpentine was not available, however, many swallowed their dislike and carved the marble. Because of its density, the carvings -- like this bear -- tended to be bulky and rounded, with little detail.
Abraham Etungat | Polar bear | | Alaska on Madison
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Mannumi Shaqu, Mother and child, tending a qulliq, 1953-1954
8 x 5 1/4 x 7 1/2 in.
This lovely work is a reprise by Mannumi of his famous Mother and Child of 1951 which was presented to Princess Elizabeth during her first royal visit to Canada in November of that year. That version was published in James Houston’s booklet Canadian Eskimo Art (Dept. of Northern Affairs and National Resources, 1954, p. 2). Interestingly, the work is carved from the attractive semi-translucent green stone used in Inukjuak. It had been discovered there in the early 1950s, so it’s possible that Houston had some on hand and offered it to Mannumi to carve. It is not known whether Houston specifically commissioned this subject from the artist, however. Although the subject is essentially the same, Mannumi made several changes to the composition, so the present work is not simply a copy but rather a reimagining of the original.
For years, the 1951 sculpture was attributed to Davidee Mannumi (1919-1979), also from Cape Dorset. In her research for the 2006 WAG exhibition Early Masters, Darlene Wight re-atttributed the work to Mannumi Shaqu, along with other sculptures that had been attributed to the other Mannumi. The section on Mannumi Shaqu in the Early Masters catalogue (pp. 162-167) illustrates several works of quite similar style.
References: See the section on the artist in Darlene Coward Wight, Early Masters: Inuit Sculpture 1949-1955, (Winnipeg: Winnipeg Art Gallery, 2006), pp. 162-167. See also Canadian Eskimo Art (Ottawa: Dept. of Northern Affairs and Natural Resources, 1954), p. 2; see Ken Mantel et al., Tuvaq: Inuit Art and the Modern World, (Bristol, UK: Sansom and Company Ltd., 2010), fig 42, p. 52; Maria von Finckenstein ed., Celebrating Inuit Art 1948-1970, (Hull, QC: Canadian Museum of Civilization [CMC], 1999), pp. 124-125.
Mannumi Shaqu | Mother and child, tending a qulliq | 1953-1954 | Alaska on Madison
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Koomwartok Ashoona, Fledgling hawk, 1970s
Stone, 3 3/4 x 2 3/4 x 3 in. (9.5 x 7 x 7.6 cm)
Koomwartok Ashoona was the brother of Kiugak and Qaqa Ashoona, two of the great first generation Cape Dorset carvers. Koomwartok carved primarily birds, both realistic and fantastic. This fledgling hawk is unusually tender, facing the challenge of survival in the Arctic.
Koomwartok Ashoona | Fledgling hawk | 1970s | Alaska on Madison
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Mattiusi Iyaituk, Lumaaq and her adopted baby narwhal
Stone, 9 x 15 x 27 in.
This is Mattiusi's imaginative postscript to the Lumiuk legend. See https://conta.cc/3oLUTpG for an article on the legend. At the conclusion of the legend, Lumiuk's mother has been transformed into a narwhal, Lumaaq. Mattiusi has imagined that Lumaaq adopted a narwhal baby, whose head appears next to her face. Lumaaq herself bears a striking resemblance to a sedna, with a stylish tail superimposed on the lower portion of her body, but with her arms preserved. The stone appears to be granite, unusual for Mattiusi (suggesting that it was carved at a time of year when he could not get his preferred serpentine).
Mattiusi Iyaituk | Lumaaq and her adopted baby narwhal | | Alaska on Madison
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Attributed to Isa Aqiattusuk Smiler, Mother nursing child, c. 1951
Mother Nursing a Child is surely one of the earliest examples of its type in existence. It was likely carved in 1951, though it is possible that it was carved already in 1950. This extraordinary sculpture has all the hallmarks of the theme, one of the most iconic in Inuit art. The seated mother’s body and clothing are exaggerated in bulk. She has pulled down the top of her amautiq, baring her shoulders, and has manoeuvred her child to the front so it can nurse. She has also withdrawn her right arm from her sleeve so that she can hold the child to her breast. The unusually flattened form of the work is no doubt due to the original shape of the stone; we think this also why the artist was obliged to add the woman’s head as a separate piece – there was simply not enough stone. This is a brilliant solution to a practical problem, and one that we have observed several times in other Inuit sculptures. It is a testament to the ingenuity of the artist, just as the overall composition is a testament to his artistic vision.
Much as we might like, it is not always possible to make attributions for special works. In the end, it is the beauty and strength of the work itself that really matter. Having said that, we think there is good reason to suggest that this superb early sculpture could be the work of one of the great Inukjuak masters, Isa Smiler. The Walker’s Nov. 2016 catalogue proposed a chronology for the major early mother-and-child works by Isa Smiler (c. 1952-1955). That analysis would place our example at the front of that timeline, if it is indeed by Isa Smiler: c. 1951.
Literature: For a similar c. 1952 work attributed to Isa Smiler see Walker’s Nov. 2016, Lot 39. See the section devoted to this artist in Darlene Coward Wight, Early Masters: Inuit Sculpture 1949-1955 (Winnipeg Art Gallery, 2006) pp. 92-97. For comparable works in a similar low-slung format (but by different hands) see Early Masters, p. 35 and Swinton (1972/92) figs. 296 and 298.
Attributed to Isa Aqiattusuk Smiler | Mother nursing child | c. 1951 | Alaska on Madison
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Ashevak Tunnillie, Perched owl
Stone, 13 x 14 x 3 in.
A majestic perched owl by Ashevak Tunnillie, exhibiting the sweeping, fluid forms for which he was known. Ex coll. Wendy and Les Fisher.
Ashevak Tunnillie | Perched owl | | Alaska on Madison
In what can only be described as an in-joke, Kananginak has imagined a raven transforming into a muskox. Kananginak's musk oxen were probably the most common subject for his carvings, and this transformation places a massive raven's head atop the body of a musox with the sweeping, flowing fur for which Kananginak was known.
Kananginak Pootoogook | Raven-Muskox Transformation | | Alaska on Madison
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Isa Aqiattusuk Smiler, Woman Softening a Skin, Early 1960s
Stone, 10 1/2 x 7 1/4 x 5 9/10 in.
Isa Smiler skillfully depicted scenes from daily life, and particularly women's chores, without regard to whether the subjects were appealing. This sculpture is a case in point. The woman is chewing on a piece of skin in order to soften it to make it into clothing. Consequently, most of her mouth is obscured. But the rest of her face is lovely, with eyebrows and nares delicately delineated. Her clothing is carefully detailed, with a toggle on the front of her amaut and generous, graceful volumes in the rear, and a rippling surface that makes the figure dynamic.
Isa Aqiattusuk Smiler | Woman Softening a Skin | Early 1960s | Alaska on Madison
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Osuitok Ipeelee, Kakagun, the Great Hunter, c. 1970
16 x 10 x 6 in.
A massive, enigmatic portrait by Osuitok Ipeelee, one of the premier first-generation Inuit artists. The sensitive face sports snow goggles, and a puzzling pair of horns extends over the figure's forehead. The rest of the sculpture is largely without details.
Osuitok Ipeelee was one of the most talented, versatile, and prolific Inuit sculptors. His subjects ranged from people to animals to transformations. His style varied from hyper-realistic to geometric to abstract. With the exception of a series of strikingly beautiful caribou, he almost never repeated himself.
Most of Osuitok's works are in serpentine, which is softer and takes details more easily than the white Andrew Gordon Bay marble. Even so, the horns have a delicate spiral texture, and the man's moustache is clearly textured. Cape Dorset artists generally preferred serpentine to marble. In "Northern Rock," Osuitok is quoted as saying, "I wasn't the only one working with the white stone from Andrew Gordon Bay back then [in the early 1970s]. Pauta Saila did too. We used that marble in the winter because those stones were the only ones available in the hamlet."
Osuitok Ipeelee | Kakagun, the Great Hunter | c. 1970 | Alaska on Madison
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Surulak, Head with goggles and helping spirits, c. 1970
15 1/2 x 11 1/2 x 7 in.
A powerful whalebone head wearing snow goggles, with two helping spirits. The sensitive and well-delineated face, accented with the antler snow goggles, contrasts with the two helping spirits, with just the barest suggestions of faces. This is afine example of the limitations that whalebone as a medium imposed on artists. Where (as on the helping spirits) the outer surface of the bone had been worn away, carving was difficult and perilous.
Surulak | Head with goggles and helping spirits | c. 1970 | Alaska on Madison
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Qavaroak Tunnillie, Woman catching fish
Stone, sinew, antler, 19 x 9 x 8 in.
This is a superb example of Qavaroak Tunnillie's work. Qavaroak was one of the finest of the first-generation Cape Dorset carvers. This woman has just caught a fish, and it is exceptional for its dynamic, fully in-the-round composition. The generous use of negative space speaks to the artist's talent, as do the flowing lines of the woman's amaut and the vibrant, leaping fish. The woman holds a fishing jig (which is a reconstruction), and has just landed the fish. This excellent National Film Board of Canada video shows Inuit jigging for fish. The catch occurs around minute 24 of the video.
Qavaroak Tunnillie | Woman catching fish | | Alaska on Madison
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Simon POV, Father and child, c. 1955
At first glance, one is tempted to dismiss it as yet another mother-and-child carving. This would be a mistake on a number of fronts. On closer inspection, it is a father and child, a relatively rare subject. The stone is classic early Inukjuak stone, with widely spaced yellow bands against the green stone. The artist used the banding in the stone skillfully, with the bands appearing to wrap the child in swaddling clothes.
The piece is signed "SIMON E9-1704." The last digit of the E-number is hard to decipher, but in combination with the very clear "SIMON" the attribution is solid. When offered to me, the piece was attributed to Simon Kasudluak, but his E-number is E9-1716, too far away from the E-number on the bottom of the carving to be believed.
The carving is refined. The details of the father's face and the child's face are fully realized, and they appear to be portraits of real persons, not stereotypical faces. The father's hair is textured to contrast with the polished stone of the face and clothing. The carefully carved hands are unusual for sculptures of this era. Even more unusually, the bottom of the sculpture is carved in the round, showing the father's shins and mukluks. In sum, this is a piece that the artist carved with care, suggesting a personal connection with the subject.
Unfortunately, very few pieces by Simon POV appear in online searches. Darlene Wight's Early Masters (see below) includes one early piece by him, which was heavily influenced by James Houston's 1951 booklet with examples of possible carving subjects.
We can date the sculpture with some confidence, simply because John Houston started encouraging the Inuit to carve in 1949, and Simon POV died in 1964. The stone is very similar to Inukjuak carvings with documented dates in the early 1950s, and I think that one can say with confidence that this piece dates to the 1950s, and very probably the early 1950s. See Darlene Coward Wight, Early Masters: Inuit Sculpture 1949-1955 (Winnipeg Art Gallery 2006).
Simon POV | Father and child | c. 1955 | Alaska on Madison
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Axangayu Shaa, Igloo scene, 1981
Serpentine, ivory, sinew, 8 1/2 x 12 x 12 in. (21.6 x 30.5 x 30.5 cm)
The igloo is composed of separate blocks of serpentine, glued and pegged on the inside. An ivory kayak is sitting on a komatik (sled) and mounted on pegs on the side of the igloo. A frame for stretching skins and a sealskin float are also mounted on pegs. (Such items were mounted on the igloo in order to keep them away from the dogs.) In front of the igloo, a man runs to meet a woman who is carrying a pot, while three dogs wait nearby. A pair of kamiks (boots) is drying on a rack in the background. The igloo is signed by Axangayu in syllabics, and the figures are miniature versions of his larger sculptures, undoubtedly by his hand.
Axangayu Shaa | Igloo scene | 1981 | Alaska on Madison
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Inuit Anonymous, Large whalebone woman with knife
22 x 9 x 14 in.
Like the narwhal, this woman carved in whalebone defies the usual limitations of the medium. The subtle curve of the amauti's hood, and the undercut and graceful hem of the amauti bespeak a master carver's touch.
Inuit Anonymous | Large whalebone woman with knife | | Alaska on Madison
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Inuit Anonymous, Seated polar bear
8 x 6 1/2 x 3 in.
This whimsical sitting bear is testimony of the artist's determination to find a bear in a broad but thin piece of stone. The head has a particularly sweet expression, and the paws are decisively sculpted. There is an indistinct signature, followed by "Inuvik, NWT."
Inuit Anonymous | Seated polar bear | | Alaska on Madison
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Abraham Etungat, Man catching bird
14 x 7 x 2 1/2 in.
This wonderful sculpture combines Etungat's two principal subjects -- birds and people. The bird is almost a miniature bird of spring, Etungat's signature subject. Both the bird and the man are animated, with the bird flapping its wings and the man captured in the act of jumping to grasp the bird. The delicacy of the connection between the two is breathtaking. The sculpture looks so natural that it's hard to overlook how daring the carving is.
Abraham Etungat | Man catching bird | | Alaska on Madison
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Inuit Anonymous, Narwhal
14 x 17 x 7 in.
A large whalebone carving, which is simple in form but speaks of the carver's skill. Most whalebone carvers did not try to modify the basic form of the bone. The difficulty of carving whalebone made it desirable -- almost imperative -- to let the form of the bone define the shape of the carving. The outstretched flippers and the tail are understated tours de force.
Inuit Anonymous | Narwhal | | Alaska on Madison
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Pauli, Hunter in kayak with caribou swimming ahead and astern
5 x 19 1/2 x 3 in.
Signed "Pauli" in Roman and syllabics. There are three Rankin Inlet artists named Paulina or Pauline, and this is probably by one of them.
The composition is at once charming and impossible, with caribou appearing to swim away from the kayak in opposite directions. One suspects that the artist had a piece of antler that was too long and narrow for the whole piece to be used as the kayak; the caribou fore and aft appear to have been suggested by the size and form of the antler.
Pauli | Hunter in kayak with caribou swimming ahead and astern | | Alaska on Madison
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Axangayu Shaa, Sedna with braids, c. 1965
4 3/4 x 12 x 3 3/4 in.
This genial sedna is typical of Axangayu's use of swelling forms. The mid-1960s were a time when Cape Dorset artists were experimenting with fantasy creatures, and the sedna bridges fantasy and traditional subjects.
Axangayu Shaa | Sedna with braids | c. 1965 | Alaska on Madison
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Kooyook Poodlat, Head of a shaman in transformation
5 x 8 x 3 in.
This enigmatic carving is unusual in many ways. First, there are records of very few works by Kooyook Poodlat. Second, there are very few women who carved bone. Third, the subject appears to be a shaman in transformation. The Inuit believed that transformations happened through the mouth; hence a number of carvings of shamans with open mouths and protruding tongues. In this case, the tongue is outsized, and is shown as coming out under the lower lip, rather than above the lip, obscuring it.
Kooyook Poodlat | Head of a shaman in transformation | | Alaska on Madison
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Lucassie Echalook, Hunter attacking bear with knife, c. 1970
15 x 17 x 8 in.
This dramatic, dynamic carving shows a hunter clinging to the back of a bear, with his knife embedded in the bear's back.
Lucassie Echalook was raised on the land, and this carving vividly conveys the intensity of the hunter's struggle with the bear. It is unusual in Lucassie's oeuvre for its extensive negative space. It is also distinctive among many Inukjuak carvings for being fully realized in the round. It does not have an obvious "front" and "back" -- as you rotate it, the composition has interest when viewed from any angle.
Lucassie Echalook | Hunter attacking bear with knife | c. 1970 | Alaska on Madison
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Thomassie Tookalook, Hunter with bearskin
This elegant hunter is holding a bearskin, meticulously detailed down to the bear's claws. As is not uncommon, the proportions are not true to life; a polar bear would, of course, be significantly larger than the hunter. One is tempted to speculate that the artist had a vision that was too large for the available stone, and he adapted the vision to fit the stone.
Thomassie Tookalook | Hunter with bearskin | | Alaska on Madison
This enigmatic figure, presumably a shaman, holds a spirit face.
Nowdlak Lyta | Kneeling woman holding spirit face | 1974 | Alaska on Madison
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Evie, Woman with baby and fish spear
9 3/4 x 5 x 3 in.
This unusual carving of a mother and child with a fish spear is signed "Evie." We think that this is probably the work of Eva Tuukkaq Kupirkruakuk, of Kuujuaq in Arctic Quebec. There are, however, two other artists named Evie from Broughton Island who are also possibilities. Whoever the artist is, she brought imagination to this carving. The fish spear poses serious challenges of negative space. The child has almost climbed out of the mother's amaut. The subject is unusual, the child's activity is unusual. On the whole, an intriguing carving that leaves us wishing to know more about its creator.
Evie | Woman with baby and fish spear | | Alaska on Madison
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John Tiktak, Head
7 1/4 x 7 x 4 in.
NOT FOR SALE.
This is one of Tiktak's most elegant heads. It is a masterpiece, whether judged in the context of Tiktak's works, Inuit art, or contemporary art. Carved with hand tools, as evidenced by chisel marks.
John Tiktak | Head | | Alaska on Madison
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Thomassie Tookalook, Mother gull feeding fish to baby gull, c. 1970-1975
15 x 15 x 10 1/2 in.
Thomassie Tookalook is also known as Tamusi Qumalu Tukala. This carving combines the strength of Thomassie's birds, with maternal tenderness. The mother gull is feeding a fish to its nestling. Povungnituk artists carved naturalistic birds with great skill, and this is a stellar example. In addition, the extensive negative space made this a very risky carving.
For a similar carving by Thomassie of a peregrine falcon, every inch a raptor, see
Thomassie Tookalook | Mother gull feeding fish to baby gull | c. 1970-1975 | Alaska on Madison
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John Kavik, Mother with child, ex coll. William Johnstone
6 1/8 x 2 3/8 x 3 1/4 in.
From "Tuvaq," by Ken Mantell: "[I]t is hard not to detect a certain innate sympathy in Bill [Johnsone]'s tastes towards the artists of the Keewatin/Western Hudson Bay communities . . . where artists like . . . John Kavik . . . wrestling with the often extremely hard-to-work local stone available to them come up with artistic solutions of the most startling formal and powerfully expressive character . . . . [Kavik's] much larger and apparently very early stone piece, Mother and Child, has a rough monumentality and quiet dignity about it that is very moving. pp. 195-7.
John Kavik | Mother with child, ex coll. William Johnstone | | Alaska on Madison
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Sheokjuk Oqutaq, Bird on hand
4 1/2 x 6 x 3 in.
Sheokjuk Oqutaq was known for the sheer beauty of his sculptures, and this piece is no exception. A small bird perches on an open hand, both beautifully executed. We are left to wonder about the impetus behind the carving.
Sheokjuk Oqutaq | Bird on hand | | Alaska on Madison
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Miaiji Uitangi Usaitajuk, Mother sewing
9 3/4 x 5 x 6 1/2 in.
Provenance:The Peter J. Landry Collection of Inuit Art, U.S.A.Exhibited:Sugluk: Sculpture in Stone, 1953-1959, exh. cat., Art Gallery of Windsor, (Windsor, ON), 1992, illustrated with two views, pages 32 & 33, cat. no. 22This work is accompanied by the Art Gallery of Windsor hand written exhibition label.Literature:Sugluk: Sculpture in Stone, 1953-1959, page 26 & 31Note:Mother Sewing by Miaji (Mary) Usaitiajuk Uitangi, “emphasizes the central role of the woman in Sugluk. The sculpture represents a woman mending a child’s parka with thread dried and split from caribou sinew. The arcing rhythmic thread constructs a memorable metaphor of woman as the provider and protector of her children at the center of the world.”This maternal portrait of the altruistic mother and her child empathizes the significance of the role of women and reiterates the regional preference for modest scenes of daily life.
Miaiji Uitangi Usaitajuk | Mother sewing | | Alaska on Madison
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Charlie, attributed to Sivuarapik, Seated hunter
5 1/2 x 5 1/2 x 7 3/4 in.
This hunter is a fine example of early carvings from Povungnituk. The details of the clothing are carefully depicted, including delicate seams, but the body is somewhat rigid. It is not signed, but attributed to Charlie Sivuarapik.
Charlie, attributed to Sivuarapik | Seated hunter | | Alaska on Madison
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Latcholassie Akesuk, BIRD, ex coll. William Johnstone
7 x 7 x 2 in.
From "Tuvaq," by Ken Mantell: "The son of legendary carver Tudlik (noted for his small owls), Latcholassie is best known for his much bolder, larger and abstracted carvings of owls, other birds, humans and mythical pieces. These pieces have a very distinctive style, being rendered with minimal impact on the stone. . . . His birds often have a joyful quality, with the artist's enthusiasm and sense of humour shining through. They tend to have a strong sense of mass -- the large forms requiring little working to create a remarkably expressive effect."
Latcholassie Akesuk | BIRD, ex coll. William Johnstone | | Alaska on Madison
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Latcholassie Akesuk, BIrd-seal transformation, c. 1965
2 1/2 x 5 1/4 x 1 1/4 in. (6.3 x 13.3 x 3.2 cm)
Ex Albrecht Collection
In true Latcholassie fashion, this carving is somewhat ambiguous in appearance. Although the overall form is that of a seal, its head is decidedly bird-like. The carving’s small size and beautiful finish lend this
creature an intimate quality that is not often found in Latcholassie’s work.
Latcholassie Akesuk | BIrd-seal transformation | c. 1965 | Alaska on Madison
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Audla Pee, Container in the form of a human-animal transformation, c. 1950-55
Stone, 4 x 2 x 5 1/4 in.
Provenance: Albrecht Collection of Arctic Art. In the early 1950s, when the Canadian Government was anxious to help develop a market for Inuit Art, it sponsored a [somewhat ill-advised] pamphlet, "Eskimo Handicrafts" that depicted both some genuine Inuit art and artifacts, but that also included pictures of non-Inuit objects, such as ashtrays. The purpose was to encourage the Inuit to produce similar objects. There is no other reasonable explanation for the inspiration for this altogether charming work -- a handsome human head with distinctly animal ears mounted on the front of a box suitable for business cards. Audla Pee, the carver, went on to become a prominent Cape Dorset artist, carving more traditional subject matter.
Audla Pee | Container in the form of a human-animal transformation | c. 1950-55 | Alaska on Madison
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Tuckyashuk, Sitting bird
5 1/2 x 7 x 3 1/2 in.
Tuckyashuk | Sitting bird | | Alaska on Madison
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Barnabus Arnasungaaq, Standing bear
Stone, 5 x 2 x 2 1/2 in.
Barnabus Arnasungaaq | Standing bear | | Alaska on Madison
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Levi Qumaaluk, Hunter with pack
9 3/4 x 7 1/8 x 7 3/8 in.
An INAC biography of Qumaaluk said, "[S]ubject matter . . . seems subordinate to the sensual depiction of detail in braided hair, rippling garments and hunting implements. Tools and weapons are carefully rendered, seams, either in clothing, tents or kayaks, are precisely delineated." This sculpture is the perfect embodiment of that statement. The contents of the hunter's pack are displayed on the outside of the pack in careful detail. Levi's carefully detailed and finished carvings present an interesting contrast with the rougher carvings of his brother, Joe Talirunili.
Levi Qumaaluk | Hunter with pack | | Alaska on Madison
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Maudie Okittuq, Raven Mother and Child, 1990-99
Stone, 5 1/2 x 3 1/4 x 3 1/4 in.
This is an exceptionally tender and finely carved work by Maudie Okittuq. Maudie is known for her fantasy figures and transformations, rendered with gusto but not particularly refined. In contrast, this elegant mother and child are beautifully rendered and finished, with one added twist: the mother and child are ravens.
Maudie Okittuq | Raven Mother and Child | 1990-99 | Alaska on Madison
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Timothy Kutchaka, Swimming goose
Stone, 3 1/2 x 5 x 2 1/4 in. (8.9 x 12.7 x 5.7 cm)
Timothy Kutchaka | Swimming goose | | Alaska on Madison
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Manasie Akpaliapik, Janus-faced shaman
23 1/2 x 22 x 11 in.
This is a tour de force that showcases Manasie's exceptional imagination and skill. He has started with a caribou skull, and turned it upside down and backwards. That is, the "front" of the sculpture is looking at the skull from behind and below the face. There are two wonderful faces on the piece -- one on the front and one on the back. The antlers have been moved and turned into arms. In addition. to the faces, there is extensive carving on almost every surface of the piece. The legs are made of ribs, and the assemblage stands on a stone base. "One of a kind" does not begin to describe the originality of this piece.
Manasie Akpaliapik | Janus-faced shaman | | Alaska on Madison
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Kolola, Bear with half a seal
5 x 2 1/2 x 4 in.
Kolola | Bear with half a seal | | Alaska on Madison
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Qaqaq (Kaka) Ashoona, Female shaman with walrus helping spirit, Before 1973
25 x 13 x 5 in.
This is an early work by Qaqaq (Kaka) Ashoona. The figure's bared teeth were a hallmark of early work by Qaqaq, a feature that appears in very few other artist's work. The flowing braids and large hands prefigure his later works. (See the Sedna by Qaqaq, whose hands, carved about 20 years later, are almost identical to those of this figure.) In addition, the majestic woman has a small walrus -- a helping spirit -- perched on top of her head, telling us that she was a shaman.
Qaqaq was a first-generation artist from Ikirasak, an outpost camp on South Baffin Island, NU who became based out of Kinngait (Cape Dorset), NU. Qaqaq maintained a traditional lifestyle on the land while simultaneously producing a substantial artistic legacy and though a prolific carver, Qaqaq self-identified as a hunter. Preferring to remain away from town Qaqaq would travel seasonally to Kinngait to sell his carvings and would occasionally live in the community.
Qaqaq's method is notable in that he only ever used hand-carving tools to produce his pieces, expressing a fear of injuring himself with electric tools. The hallmark of his sculpture is the combination of heavy, compact and free flowing forms. Qaqaq stated that although human faces are harder to carve he was drawn to sculpting them more often than animals.
Qaqaq's work has exhibited nationally and internationally. In April of 1973 his first solo exhibition, Sculpture by Kaka of Cape Dorset was held at Gallery of the Arctic in Victoria, BC. His work is housed in numerous major collections including the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, ON Winnipeg Art Gallery, Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal and the Canadian Museum of History, Gatineau, QC.
Qaqaq (Kaka) Ashoona | Female shaman with walrus helping spirit | Before 1973 | Alaska on Madison
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Noah Nowrakudluk, Hunter in kayak with seal and walrus head, c. 1960-1969
Stone, 2 3/4 x 13 x 3 1/2 in. (7 x 33 x 8.9 cm)
A classic Arctic Quebec piece, showing a hunter who had a very good day -- there is a seal on the kayak deck, and a walrus being towed in the water alongside.
Noah Nowrakudluk | Hunter in kayak with seal and walrus head | c. 1960-1969 | Alaska on Madison
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Osuituk Ipeelee, Musk ox
7 x 7 x 3 in.
Osuituk Ipeelee | Musk ox | | Alaska on Madison
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