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Canadian Inuit Drawings

Canadian Inuit drawings are celebrated by collectors for their unique aesthetic that reflects the rich history and artistic sensibilities of the indigenous peoples of the arctic. Beginning around the mid-20th century, the artwork of the Inuit peoples emerged as a welcome addition to the canon of Western art, and has continued to grow in popularity to present day. While Canadian Inuit drawings are largely figurative, examples of more abstract styles abound, beginning with the work of artists such as John Pangnark in the early '50s.

Traditionally, Inuit drawings relate anthropomorphic and totemic visions of animal life and humans, which are often portrayed in a state of coalescence or transformation. Drawings from this region typically focus on the native fauna, including killer whales, sockeye salmon, and reindeer, and feature elaborate geometric designs which are unique to the Inuit artistic tradition.

Inuit drawings have been discovered as far back as 600 A.D. and have evolved over the centuries as these native tribes came into contact with outside traditions. Today, artists such as Ningeokuluk Teeve continue the vibrant tradition of Inuit art producing drawings that reflect the native traditions of the regions as well as the realities of the modern world.

Quick Facts

  • With more than 13,000 works, the Winnipeg Art Gallery in Alaska has the largest public collection of Inuit art in the world
  • The National Art Gallery of Ottawa had 103 Inuit works by 1985. That number has climbed to more than 1,300 today and continues to grow each year
  • Waddington’s auctioneers in Toronto sold a work on paper by Inuit artist Kenojuak Ashevak titled "The Enchanted Owl" for $58,000 in 2001

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