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Sold at Auction: Osuitok Ipeelee

(1923-2005)

Biography

Osuitok Ipeelee (23 September 1923 Neeouleeutalik camp-2005 Cape Dorset) was an Inuk sculptor who lived in Cape Dorset, Nunavut. His sculptures in green soapstone of caribou and birds are particularly esteemed for their balance and delicacy. He was an early collaborator with James Archibald Houston, and by Houston's account was instrumental in the conception of the West Baffin Island Eskimo Cooperative. He was also one of the witnesses of the last-remembered traditional Inuit trial.

Ipeelee grew up in a traditional Inuit environment, learning to hunt and fish from his father, Ohotok Ipeelee, at a small camp near Cape Dorset. Ohotok also taught his son how to carve ivory, and as early as the age of thirteen Osuitok began to sculpt. This was encouraged by Roman Catholic missionaries, who bought carvings and commissioned small crucifixes from him. The artist's earliest extant works are ivory miniatures of hunting equipment, typical of the historic period of Inuit art, that date from the 1940s.
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