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LOT 018

Niviaksiak (Niviaxie)
1908 - 1959
Canadian Indigenous

Man Hunting at a Seal Hole
skin stencil
signed, titled, editioned 30/26, dated May 1959, inscribed "Cape Dorset, Baffin Island" and "Skin Stencil" and stamped by the Canadian Eskimo Art Committee and on verso certified by the Canadian Eskimo Art label
24 x 18 in 61 x 45.7 cm

Estimate: $25,000 - $35,000

Sold for: $35,100

Preview at: Heffel Vancouver

An Important Private Estate, Montreal

James Houston, Cape Dorset, The Winnipeg Art Gallery, 1980, page 11
Gerald McMaster, editor, Inuit Modern: The Samuel and Esther Sarick Collection, Art Gallery of Ontario, 2010, reproduced page 72 and the circa 1950s ink and graphite drawing entitled Man Hunting at a Seal Hole in the Ice, from Niviaksiak Sketchbook, reproduced page 72
Norman Vorano, Inuit Prints: Japanese Inspiration, Early Printmaking in the Canadian Arctic, Canadian Museum of Civilization, 2011, reproduced page 79, titled as Man Hunting at Seal Hole in Ice

Inuit peoples at Cape Dorset on West Baffin Island were a hunting society with strong artistic roots – they incised bone and ivory, carved stone and appliquéd skins. In the 1950s, artistic pursuits were a full-time activity for only a few. However, in 1957 a significant development changed that – James Houston introduced printmaking to the community, and it was received with great excitement. Houston called them “the most talented Inuit group that I had ever met.” Two years of experimentation followed, and the first collection of their limited edition prints was released in 1959. This is the most sought-after print by important early carver and printmaker Niviaksiak. Iconic and elegant, it depicts the power of a hunter poised to spear a seal through a breathing hole in the ice. The stylized curves of the man’s body and the capturing of force in movement are reminiscent of the work of well-known linocut printer Sybil Andrews of the Grosvenor School. Although they would not have been aware of each other, it shows that even in their isolation the Inuit had congruities with a modernist aesthetic.

Estimate: $25,000 - $35,000

All prices are in Canadian Dollars

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