Inuit art: techniques that evolved over time

Inuit art bears witness to the traditional way of life of northern communities. The animals they encountered, their beliefs and legends.

Professor Jacques Rousseau was one of the first Quebecers to take an interest in and collect Inuit art.

Jacques Rousseau was originally a botanist and assistant to Marie-Victor’s brother. He was director of the Montreal Botanical Garden from 1945-1956, first director of the Musée de l’Homme in Ottawa (1956-1959), professor at the Sorbonne University (1959-1962), and finally director of research at the Center in the north. He studied at Laval University in Quebec until 1970.

On the May 19, 1964 show Todayjournalist Pierre Paquette talks to a researcher at the Université Laval Center for Northern Studies.

Journalist Pierre Paquette discusses Inuit art with Professor Jacques Rousseau of the Center for Northern Studies at Laval University.

Professor Rousseau tells him about Puvirnitug, a village northeast of Hudson Bay. The professor explains the importance of the cooperative movement for Inuit communities. He notes that in the 1960s the concept of a village did not exist among the Inuit: the Eskimos.

At the time of this 1964 interview, the Puvirnitug Inuit had been carving for only three years. Although the carving technique is new, the Inuit have always carved and engraved stone.

Carving is the newest technique. They carved in stone, they carved in stone. So, when they were asked to engrave, they were simply asked for a transfer technique. Drawing on stone and copying to paper. »

quote from Jacques Rousseau, 1964

It was in 1958 that Toronto artist James Houston introduced printmaking to Cape Dorset.

Beginning in the late 1940s, James Houston encouraged Inuit to create artwork in a cooperative to alleviate the communities’ economic hardships. In 1949, the McCord Museum in Montreal organized the first exhibition of Inuit art, presenting pieces carved from ivory, whalebone, serpentine stone, or soapstone.

Since the 1950s, carving has become a reliable source of income for the Inuit. For example, sales at Puvirnitug rose from $750 in 1952 to $100,000 in 1962. »

quote from Emilie Dubreuil

January 10, 2018 at News broadcast, Emilie Dubreuil reports on the Inuit art industry. He meets the painter and sculptor Peter Gumaluk Ittukalla, who tells him that he carved his first work at the age of four.

Report on the Inuit art industry by journalist Emilie Dubreuil. Meeting with sculptor Peter Gumaluk Ittukalla.

During her reporting, Emilie Dubreuil also met Richard Murdoch, an expert on Nunavik art whose father was involved in the founding of the New Quebec Federation of Cooperatives. This federation sells and distributes art from north to south.

In the 1980s, the sale of the statues brought in more than two million dollars a year for Nunavik territory cooperatives.

Although less popular than in the 1980s, Inuit art still features prominently in art galleries and souvenir shops.

The craft represented a $90 million industry in 2015 and created 2,700 full-time equivalent jobs. But according to sculptor Peter Gumaluk Ittukalla, this millennia-old know-how is now under threat.

On March 27, 2021, the City of Winnipeg opened Gaumajug, the world’s largest Inuit art center, an innovative center affiliated with the Winnipeg Art Museum.

Laura Lussier introduces it to us on the show Everything is included July 23, 2021.

Report by journalist Laura Lussier visiting the world’s largest collection of Inuit art at Gaumajug, an innovative center affiliated with the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

The showrooms are built based on a design inspired by Nordic landscapes. Whiteness and emptiness are the focus.

Gaumajuq means in the Inuktiki language to illuminate, to illuminate. The center houses more than 14,000 traditional and modern works of art.

At the end of the report, journalist Laura Lussier asks Aline Halischak, programs and learning coordinator at the Art Gallery of Winnipeg. the favorite of the exhibition.

The latter presents him with the work of artist and designer Maata Kyak. Sealskin went with the flowers is a dress embellished with seal fur flowers in dazzling hues. With this creation, the designer wanted to convey the message that his culture is flourishing.

Five distinct periods have been identified for Inuit art:

Pre-Dorset period from 2000 BC to 700 AD. Its production is characterized by utilitarian objects such as tools and harpoons, which are very aesthetic.

Dorset period 700 to 1000 AD. The period when we find the famous miniature Tiara ivory masks and several figurines. This is the period when we feel the influence of shamans and magic in the culture.

Thule period 1000 to the end of the 19th century. Representation of women in art is important there. A few art objects are reserved for women, such as combs and jewelry.

Historical period From the beginning of the 20th century to the middle of the 20th century. Works of art lose their mystical side and become more mercantile. It was at this time that the Inuit began to make toys and animal sculptures.

The modern erae. Carving and sculpture are important there, and we see the appearance of single artists with a style known as Ashevak Kenojuak.

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