Styles

Inuit from the Canadian Arctic use local raw materials such as stone, bone, ivory, muskox horns and caribou antlers, which they find in their immediate environment. Thus, Inuit sculpture offers a wide variety of styles, each typical to the region it is from.

 

Baffin island

Since the 1950s, the artists from the Baffin Island region are the main and the most prolific producer of art of the Canadian Arctic. The variety of available materials, such as serpentinite stone, whalebone, caribou antlers and walrus ivory allows the local artists to express their creativity in many different ways. The aesthetic qualities of the sculptures originating from Baffin Island, although strongly based on naturalism, tend toward elegance and stylization. The artists favor animal subjects and play harmoniously with movement and balance.

nunavik

Nunavik, the northernmost part of the Province of Quebec, is the cradle of contemporary Inuit art, which made its debut on the art market towards the end of the 1940s. Since then, sculptors from this area mostly depict realistic and narrative scenes in their art. Although animals remain an important subject, hunting scenes as well as traditional and mythological representations are predominant. The most abundant raw material of the region is gray steatite (often called “soapstone”), which is soft and easy to carve. When polished, it can be engraved very delicately.

Kivalliq

Basalt, the very hard gray or black stone found in the Kivalliq region, gave rise to an aesthetic that focuses more on shapes and volumes than on details. The styles range from raw expressionism to simpler and more refined sculptural shapes. While animal subjects tend to be quite rare, many artists explore supernatural themes, merging animal and human forms together. Others focus on family themes.

Kitikmeot

The isolation of most Inuit groups of this region up until de mid-1950s played a key role in the survival of traditional beliefs, despite a late conversion to Christianism. Sculptures from the Kitikmeot region are characterized by whimsical shapes and themes relating to shamanism and the spirit world. A lot of sculptors work both with stone, mainly pyroxene, and whalebone. Odd facial features, startled eyes and grimaces are typical of this region.

Inuvialuit

Sculptures made of whalebone, walrus ivory, muskox horn and sometimes stone are created in this region. In the village of Holman, since the beginning of the 1960s, artists use muskox horn to create magnificent, delicate birds.

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