JOHNNY INUKPUK, R.C.A. (1911-2007) INUKJUAK (PORT HARRISON)
Hunting Caribou by Kayak, early 1970s stone and antler without paddle: 3 1/4 x 12 x 3 1/2 in (8.3 x 30.5 x 8.9 cm) with paddle: 3 1/4 x 12 x 8 1/2 in (8.3 x 30.5 x 21.6 cm) signed, "ᔭᓂ"; inscribed, "ᑲᔭᑐᑐ" (Kayak Caribou [?]).
Johnny Inukpuk’s remarkable career is one of the longest in the history of Inuit art. began carving around 1951, and quickly became a leading Inuit sculptor, encouraged and promoted by James Houston. Darlene Wight’s catalogue Early Masters: Inuit Sculpture 1949-1955 (WAG 2006) pp. 83-87, outlines his early life and the beginnings of his artistic career, and illustrates several early works. Inukpuk’s second style phase, which includes many of his large-scale masterpieces, dates from the late 1950s to the mid 1960s.
Inukpuk’s third stylistic phase extended from the late 1960s right until his death in 2007—an astonishing forty years! During these decades he concentrated on producing mostly smaller works: many depictions of women working (often carrying children), but also other subjects including animal figures and the occasional hunting scene. This particularly charming work portrays a young hunter paddling his qayaq. While the inscription seems to suggest that he is searching for caribou, the lucky hunter has already captured a seal.
Estate of Peter Murdoch, Montreal. One of the most important Qallunaat figures in the development of Inuit art, Peter Murdoch (1929-2015) became a Hudson’s Bay post manager in the Arctic in 1947 at the tender age of eighteen; managed the Rehab Centre in Frobisher Bay (now Iqaluit) in the early 1960s where he instituted a successful carving program; and devoted the rest of his life to building and nurturing FCNQ, the federation of co-ops in Nunavik (Arctic Quebec). He was inducted into the Order of Canada in 2015.