Men Pulling a Walrus / Man Pulling a Walrus*, 1964 (1964/5 #60)
stonecut, 17.125 x 24.5 in (43.2 x 62.2 cm)
Men Pulling a Walrus was reproduced in the exhibition catalogue for the Winnipeg Art Gallery's 1979 show, Eskimo Narrative. Jean Blodgett’s text describes the work this way, "Two men, one of whom is carrying his harpoon, pull home their captured walrus. The weight of this heavy beast is emphasized by their posture as they strain to drag him along. Parr… concerns himself with the general form and outline of the basic elements within his scene" .
It is possible that Jean Blodgett was unaware, back in 1979, that the source for this powerful and dynamic print image was actually only the upper register of a drawing by Parr that is considerably more complex; the lower two-thirds of the drawing depicts a second hunter and various animals. To compare the print and print drawing, see Labarge (1986, pp. 28-29). This practice of pulling images from larger compositions was not uncommon in Cape Dorset in the early years of printmaking. Men Pulling a Walrus works really well as a stand-alone print image—in fact, one could imagine that many “parts” of Parr’s drawings would have been very successful prints on their own, since so many of his images are not really cohesive narratives. The stonecut is remarkably faithful to the feeling of the drawing; stonecuts from Parr drawings always are, and work really well.
Parr’s original drawing as published in Dorothy LaBarge, From Drawing to Print (Calgary: Glenbow Museum, 1986), pp. 28-29. Not for sale with this print.
Stylistically, this image by Parr comes from his Period III, which Ingo Hessel situates in the years 1963 to 1966. In these years Parr drew increasingly with coloured pencils and even wax crayons. His style became freer and looser, his subject matter more narrative and action-filled, and generally displaying fewer and larger human and animal figures. These figures are more realistic and fully formed. And although we cannot tell from this print, Parr was exploring colour more and more as well.
References: This image was published in international travelling exhibition catalogue The Inuit Print, cat. 36. The print and Parr’s original drawing are published in Dorothy LaBarge, From Drawing to Print (Calgary: Glenbow Museum, 1986), pp. 28-29.
1. Jean Blodgett, Eskimo Narrative(Winnipeg Art Gallery, 1979) cat. 23.
*NOTE: This copy of the edition is inscribed with the title "Man Pulling Walrus.” It is not uncommon for early Cape Dorset prints to have these kinds of variations in their inscriptions.