This session is closed for bidding.
Current bid: $90,000 CAD
Bidding History
Paddle # Date Amount

26660 27-Jun-2024 08:23:09 AM $90,000 AutoBid

919348 27-Jun-2024 08:23:09 AM $85,000 AutoBid

26660 27-Jun-2024 08:23:08 AM $80,000 AutoBid

919348 25-Jun-2024 05:49:54 PM $75,000

11853 25-Jun-2024 05:22:39 PM $70,000

26660 11-Jun-2024 03:42:15 PM $65,000

The bidding history list updated on: Tuesday, July 16, 2024 02:41:43

LOT 202

1927 - 2013

The Enchanted Owl
stonecut on paper
titled, editioned 32/50, dated 1960, inscribed "Stonecut" / "Cape Dorset Baffin Island" / "Kenojuak" and stamped with the Cape Dorset stamp
24 x 26 in, 61 x 66 cm

Estimate: $70,000 - $90,000 CAD

Sold for: $109,250

Preview at:

Inuit Art & First Nations Fine Art, Walker's Fine Art & Estate Auctioneers, May 3, 2014, lot 39
A Prominent Private Collection

Jean Blodgett, Kenojuak, 1985, red colourway reproduced cover and page 38, catalogue #11
Sharon Anne Cook et al, Framing Our Past: Canadian Women's History in the Twentieth Century, 2001, red colourway reproduced page 68
Deborah Evenett, Encyclopedia of Native American Artists, 2008, red colourway reproduced page 3
Ingo Hessel, Inuit Art: An Introduction, 1998, red colourway reproduced page 40
Anna Hudson et al., Tunirrusiangit: Kenojuak Ashevak and Tim Pitseiulak, 2018, red colourway reproduced page 33
Odette Leroux et al., Inuit Women Artists, 1994, red colourway reproduced page 22
Gerald McMaster, Inuit Modern, 2011, red colourway reproduced on page 37
Anne Newlands, Canadian Art: From Its Beginnings to 2000, 2000, red colourway reproduced on the back cover and page 20
Ernst Roch, Arts of the Eskimo: Prints, 1974, red colourway reproduced page 39
Norman Vorano, Inuit Prints: Japanese Inspiration: Early Printmaking in the Canadian Arctic, 2011, catalogue #27, rep

The National Gallery of Canada, Cape Dorset: A Decade of Eskimo Prints and Recent Sculptures, 1967, same image, catalogue #20
The National Museum of Man, The Inuit Print, touring exhibition, 1977, same image, catalogue #11

The Enchanted Owl is one of Kenojuak Ashevak's most well-known works, and arguably one of the most well-recognized images in Canadian art. The print was released in 1960 and quickly became not only an icon of Inuit art, but a symbol of Canada.

Ashevak grew up in the Canadian Arctic, following traditional Inuit values, and traveled between Baffin Island and Northern Quebec. She was a skillful seamstress from an early age, using caribou and sealskin hides to create beautiful patterns, something she learned from her maternal grandmother, with whom she lived as a young girl. By the time James Houston arrived and encouraged her to draw in 1958, she already showed an intuitive understanding of composition and form. Applying these traditional skills to the medium of stonecut, with The Enchanted Owl she proved she was an adept and original artist from the very start.

Her artwork showed a deep understanding and appreciation for the wildlife around her, often representing animals and birds – and most loved are her depictions of owls. Their shape deviates from reality to follow her imagination, with artistic form taking precedence over practicality. Her style is self-described as her hand leading her mind. Left-handed, she would often start her drawings at the left side of the paper and slowly build her composition. So assured was she in her vision it is said her hand would rarely leave the paper.

The Enchanted Owl has an otherworldly and mysterious feel. Perhaps it derives from the high contrast of green and black, evoking themes duality, light and dark, good and evil, or the dramatic outburst of plumage radiating around the static body of the owl - which exudes energy. Although Kenojuak never stated that her works were spiritual - still, there is something all-knowing about this owl, with its inquisitive eyes and intelligent gaze directed at the viewer. Enchanting indeed!

The first appearance of the Enchanted Owl can be seen in her print Bird Humans (also from 1960). This image was created before her drawing The Enchanted Owl, and it is fascinating to see the idea of the work in its earliest form. The owl in this drawing has no plumage, but the curious face of the owl is instantly recognizable - a seed of an idea that would become the iconic work that for many, was the introduction to the art form of printmaking.

This work is a rare and classical image, one that shaped the burgeoning Inuit art aesthetic. Throughout Kenojuak's decades-long prolific career, the style and themes first developed in The Enchanted Owl were Kenojuak’s signature, echoed by countless other artists who looked to her as the matriarch of contemporary Inuit art. When asked which her favourite print was, Kenojuak always answered "My Enchanted Owl," and it was the only print she proudly hung in her home. We can see why, after all these years, The Enchanted Owl continues to captivate us all.

Printmaker: Iyola Kingwatsiak (1933-2000)

All prices are in Canadian Dollars

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