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i u a pi pu pa ti tu ta ki ku ka gi gu ga mi mu ma ni nu na si su sa li lu la ji ju ja vi vu va ri ru ra qi qu qa ngi ngu nga lhi lhu lha

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Osuitok Ipeelee, ᐅᓱᐃᑐ ᐃᐱᓕ

Settlement: Cape Dorset / Kinngait

(1923-2005) — E7-1154

Osuitok was born and raised at Neeouleeutalik camp near the settlement of Cape Dorset (Kinngait) in Nunavut. His early years were spent living off of the land; he married Nipisha in 1946 and moved their growing family into Cape Dorset permanently in the mid 1950s. 

When James Houston arrived in Cape Dorset in 1951, Osuitok was already well known as an ivory carver; he had sold his artwork to the local Catholic priest, teachers in Cape Dorset, and the RCMP.  His earliest carvings were ivory miniatures of kayaks and fox traps; the very first piece that Ipeelee sold in the 1940s was a "miniature ivory fox-trap with moving parts. 

It was Ipeelee's questions about the origins of the printed images on cigarette packages, now an almost legendary story, that set in motion the creation of the Cape Dorset printmaking co-operative. James Houston explained the rudiments of printmaking by rubbing ink onto the surface of one of Ipeelee' tusk carvings and then used toilet paper to lift the resulting impression's image. Upon seeing the result Ipeelee commented: "We could do that."

Osuitok would become instrumental in the development of print making in Cape Dorset. Through the 1950s and onwards he was entrusted with being the "keeper of the carving stone" that he helped quarry during the summer season. This experience, along with his own carving background, helped Ipeelee guide other sculptors to select the best stones. He was well aware of the fracturing, breaking, and cleaving characteristics of the area's stone. Ipeelee remarked: "When I do carvings, most of the time I try and have the stone more like talking to me to tell me if it will work this way."

Considered a sensitive artist, Osuitok's interest in the history of the Inuit and their traditonal culture is reflected in his work.
Osuitok's older brother, Sheokjuk Oqutaq (1920-1982) was also a talented artist.

"As a master carver," Ipeelee has said, "I feel proud when young people come talk to me, to learn about what I am doing. It is important for the young people to learn responsibility and provide for themselves."

His caribou sculptures have been described as ghostlike with long, spindly legs. Ipeelee remarked that the inua, or caribou spirits, were quite fragile and were known for being able to make themselves look "handsomer and heavier" when they realized humans were looking at them. Ipeelee ensured that his sculpture would stand balanced by using a carpenter's level. He made the base of the sculpture thicker than it would be in the final product so that he had enough material to work with in the finishing process.

Commenting on the beginning of carving in Cape Dorset Ipeelee, in 1987, observed: "Before the government came up here there was only one way of making money. People could make money from fox furs and the other things we used to bring in, but only a little money. Then it was learned that carvings here in the Arctic have a price and when there were no jobs available people quickly learned their value. That is why they have tried so hard at it"


Exhibitions

  • A Family Tradition: Inuit Art from Canada's Arctic, Presented by Arctic Inuit Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
  • A New Day Dawning: Early Cape Dorset Prints, University of Michigan
  • Aipellie Osuitok (Oshaweetok): Sculpture, Theo Waddington & Company
  • Animals of the Arctic, Arctic Inuit Art
  • Arctic Ice: Sculptures in Marble by the Artists of Cape Dorset, Northwest Territories, Marion Scott Gallery
  • Arctic Mirror, Canadian Museum of Civilization
  • Arctic Spirit 35 Years of Canadian Inuit Art, Frye Art Museum
  • Arctic Vision: Art of the Canadian Inuit, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Canadian Arctic Producers
  • Baffin Island Sculpture, Inuit Gallery of Vancouver
  • Canadian Eskimo Art - Prints, Sculpture, Carlin Galleries
  • Cape Dorset, Winnipeg Art Gallery
  • Cape Dorset - A Decade of Eskimo Prints & Recent Sculpture, National Gallery of Canada, in cooperation with the Canadian Eskimo Art Committee
  • Cape Dorset - Selected Sculpture from the Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg Art Gallery
  • Cape Dorset Exhibition, Franz Bader Gallery
  • Cape Dorset Graphics *59, (annual collection)
  • Cape Dorset Print Collection (printmaker) *59, (annual collection)
  • Cape Dorset Print Collection (printmaker) *60, (annual collection)
  • Cape Dorset Sculptors and Their Sculpture, The Inuit Art Collection Mr. and Mrs. James F. Bacon
  • Cape Dorset Sculpture, Canadian Guild of Crafts Quebec
  • Cape Dorset Sculpture, McMaster Art Gallery
  • Cape Dorset Sculpture by Ipellee Osuitok, Tutuiya Ikkidluak, Quavaroak Tunnillie, Ashevak Tunnillie, Peter Tunnillie, Canadian Guild of Crafts Quebec
  • Cape Dorset Stone Sculpture: Masters & the Next Generation, Inuit Gallery of Vancouver
  • Cape Dorset: Recent Sculpture, Gallery of the Arctic
  • Collectable Sculpture 1987, Webster Galleries
  • Collectors' Choice - An Exhibition of Important Inuit Sculpture, Waddington Galleries
  • Contemporary Art: Cape Dorset, Canadian Guild of Crafts Quebec
  • Contemporary Canadian Eskimo Art, Gimpel Fils
  • Contemporary Indian and Inuit Art of Canada, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Ottawa, presented at the General Assembly Building, United Nations
  • Contemporary Inuit Art, National Gallery of Canada
  • Die Kunst aus der Arktis, Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Ottawa, presented by Commerzbank
  • Eskimo Art, National Gallery of Canada
  • Eskimo Art, Queens Museum
  • Eskimo Art of the Canadian Eastern Arctic, circulated by the Smithsonian Travelling Exhibition Service, organized by Eskimo Art,Inc.
  • Eskimo Carvings: Coronation Exhibition, Gimpel Fils
  • Eskimo Fantastic Art, Gallery 111, School of Art, University of Manitoba
  • Eskimo Sculpture, arranged by the Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources, and the National Gallery of Canada
  • Eskimo Sculpture '69, Robertson Galleries
  • Eskimo Sculpture: Selections from the Twomey Collection, Winnipeg Art Gallery
  • Eskimo Sculptures and Prints including a collection of Carvings by Osowetokla, Hartford National Bank
  • Exhibition of Eskimo Carvings by Cape Dorset Artist Oshewetok, Waddington Galleries
  • Fantasy and Stylization - Cape Dorset Sculpture, Inuit Gallery of Vancouver
  • Four Cape Dorset Sculptors, Theo Waddington Galleries
  • From the Arctic Waters: A Selection of Inuit Sculpture & Graphics, Feheley Fine Arts
  • Granville Island Canadian Inuit Sculpture Exhibition (first exhibition), Vancouver Inuit Art Society
  • Granville Island Canadian Inuit Sculpture Exhibition (second exhibition), Vancouver Inuit Art Society
  • Graphic Art by Eskimos of Canada: First Collection, Cultural Affairs Division, Department of External Affairs, Canada
  • Grasp Tight the Old Ways: Selections from the Klamer Family Collection of Inuit Art, Art Gallery of Ontario
  • Hudson's Bay Company Collection of Inuit Art, Winnipeg Art Gallery
  • Im Schatten der Sonne: Zeitgenossische Kunst der Indianer und Eskimos in Kanada/In the Shadow of the Sun: Contemporary Indian and Inuit Art in Canada, Canadian Museum of Civilization
  • Images of our past, Art of Man Gallery
  • Immaginario Inuit Arte e cultura degli esquimesi canadesi, Galleria d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea
  • In Cape Dorset We Do It This Way: Three Decades of Inuit Printmaking, McMichael Canadian Art Collection
  • Indigenous People-A New Partnership, presented by the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts at the John B. Aird Gallery, Queen's Park
  • Inspiration Four Decades of Sculpture, Marion Scott Gallery
  • Inuit Art from the Art Centre Collection, Macdonald Stewart Art Centre
  • Inuit Art from the Canadian Arctic, Bayly Art Museum University of Virginia
  • Inuit Art in the 1970s, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, and the Agnes Etherington Art Centre
  • Inuit Art: A Selection of Inuit Art from the Collection of the National Museum of Man, Ottawa, and the Rothmans Permanent Collection of Inuit Sculpture, Canada, National Museum of Man, Ottawa and Rothmans of Pall Mall Canada Ltd.
  • Inuit Images in Transition, Augusta Savage Gallery, University of Massachusetts
  • Inuit Master Artists of the 1970s, Inuit Gallery of Vancouver
  • Inuit Masterworks, Inuit Gallery of Vancouver
  • Inuit Masterworks: Selections from the Collection of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, McMichael Canadian Collection
  • Inuit Sculpture from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Eugene B. Power, University of Michigan Museum of Art
  • Inuit Sculpture--New Acquisitions, Pucker Gallery
  • Inuit Sculpture: Displayed in Conjunction with the 1991 Cape Dorset Annual Graphics Collection, Muscarelle Museum of Art
  • Inuitkonst fran Kanada - skulptor och grafik, Millesgarden
  • Ipillie Oshoweetok, Inuit Galerie
  • Major Works by Major Artists, Gallery of the Arctic
  • Mythology in Stone, Canadian Guild of Crafts Quebec
  • Noel au Chateau - Art inuit de la collection Macdonald Stewart Art Centre, Macdonald Stewart Art Centre Guelph, Ontario presented at Chateau Dufresne
  • On the Land, The Arctic Circle
  • Opening Exhibition, Nunavut Fine Arts Limited
  • Oshaweetok Ipeelee, Eskimo Art Gallery
  • Oshewetok, Waddington Galleries
  • Oshewetok, Cape Dorset: Recent Sculpture, Waddington Galleries
  • Oshoweetok, Pucker/Safrai Gallery
  • Osuitok Ipeelee R.C.A., Inuit Gallery of Vancouver
  • Osuitok Ipeelee: One Man's Sculpture, Feheley Fine Arts
  • Our Hoods are Full, Arctic Artistry
  • Sanaugasi Takujaksat: A Travelling Celebration of Inuit Sculpture, Presented by Canadian Arctic Producers Ltd., with the assistance of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Ottawa
  • Sculpture of the Inuit: Masterwork Exhibitors of the Canadian Arctic, Inuit Gallery of Vancouver
  • Sculpture/Inuit: Masterworks of the Canadian Arctic, Canadian Eskimo Arts Council
  • Sculptures by Oshoweetook "B" of Cape Dorset, Canadian Guild of Crafts Quebec
  • Sedna: Spirit of the Sea, Feheley Fine Arts
  • Small Sculptures by Great Artists I, Feheley Fine Arts
  • Small Sculptures by Great Artists II, Feheley Fine Arts
  • Small Sculptures by Great Artists III, Feheley Fine Arts
  • Small Sculptures from across the Canadian Arctic, Feheley Fine Arts
  • Songs in Stone, The Arctic Circle
  • Spoken in Stone: an exhibition of Inuit Art, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies
  • Stones, Bones, Cloth, and Paper: Inuit Art in Edmonton Collections, Edmonton Art Gallery
  • Ten Masterworks Exhibition Artists, Gallery of the Arctic
  • The Arctic/L'Artique, UNESCO
  • The Cape Dorset Print, Presented at Rideau Hall by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
  • The Eskimo, Museum of Fine Arts
  • The Eskimo Art Collection of the Toronto-Dominion Bank, Toronto-Dominion Bank
  • The Inuit Imagination, Winnipeg Art Gallery
  • The Jacqui and Morris Shumiatcher Collection of Inuit Art, Norman Mackenzie Art Gallery, University of Regina
  • The Klamer Family Collection of Inuit Art from the Art Gallery of Ontario, University of Guelph
  • The Murray and Marguerite Vaughan Inuit Print Collection, Beaverbrook Art Gallery
  • The Oral Tradition, National Museum of Man
  • The Spirit of the Land, The Koffler Gallery
  • The Theme of Transformation in Inuit Sculpture, The Isaacs/Innuit Gallery
  • The Treasured Monument, Marion Scott Gallery
  • The Woodget Collection of Eskimo Art and Artifacts, Nova Scotia Museum of Fine Art
  • The World Around Me, University of Lethbridge Art Gallery
  • The Year of the Bear, The Arctic Circle
  • The Year of the Walrus, The Arctic Circle
  • Uumajut: Animal Imagery in Inuit Art, Winnipeg Art Gallery
  • We Lived by Animals/Nous Vivions des Animaux, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development in cooperation with the Department of External Affairs
  • Wildlife of the Arctic: Eskimo Sculpture, Pucker/Safrai Gallery
  • [Inuit Art Exhibition], Canadian Trade Centre

Collections

  • Amon Carter Museum of Western Art, Fort Worth
  • Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Victoria
  • Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax
  • Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto
  • Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton
  • Canada Council Art Bank, Ottawa
  • Canadian Guild of Crafts Quebec, Montreal
  • Canadian Museum of Civilization, Hull
  • Dennos Museum Center, Northwestern Michigan College, Traverse City
  • Department of Foreign Affairs, Ottawa
  • GE Canada Inuit Art Collection, Mississauga
  • Glenbow Museum, Calgary
  • Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology, Brown University, Bristol
  • Hudson's Bay Company Collection, Winnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg
  • Inuit Cultural Institute, Rankin Inlet
  • Klamer Family Collection, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto
  • Macdonald Stewart Art Centre, Guelph
  • Macmillan-Bloedel Limited, Vancouver
  • McMaster University Art Gallery, Hamilton
  • McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Kleinburg
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
  • National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
  • Nunatta Sunaqutangit Museum, Iqaluit
  • Rothmans Permanent Collection of Eskimo Sculpture, Toronto
  • Sarick Collection, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto
  • Tom Thomson Memorial Gallery and Museum of Fine Art, Owen Sound
  • Toronto-Dominion Bank Collection, Toronto
  • University of Alberta, Edmonton
  • University of Lethbridge Art Gallery, Lethbridge
  • University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor
  • Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Banff
  • Winnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg

Accomplishments

  • Among his distinctions was a commission, in 1955, to carve the figures for the mace of the Government of the Northwest Territories.
  • For H.R.H. Queen Elizabeth's visit to Canada in 1959, Osuitok created a carving of Her Royal Highness using stone and whalebone as well as copper for her crown.

Artwork

Title Last Sold At Auction
A SWIMMING FISH 2008-11 (November 2008)
ALERT OWL 2016-11 (November 2016)
BEAR ATTACKING MAN 2011-05 (May 2011)
BIRD 2013-07 (July 2013)
BUST OF A FEMALE 2015-11 (November 2015)
CARIBOU 2012-04 (April 2012)
ESKIMO LEGEND: OWL, FOX AND HARE 2015-11 (November 2015)
ETCHED TUSK ON WALRUS HEAD BASE 2011-05 (May 2011)
FIGURES, GOOSE, OWL, POLAR BEAR 2019-11 (November 2019)
FISHERMAN 2010-04 (April 2010)
FISHERWOMAN 2019-11 (November 2019)
FOUR MUSK OXEN 2012-04 (April 2012)
FOUR MUSKOXEN 2009-11 (November 2009)
GOOSE 2018-11 (November 2018)
GOOSE SPIRIT CARRYING A PAIL 2015-11 (November 2015)
GRACEFUL OWL 2018-11 (November 2018)
HAWK ON ONE LEG 2014-06 (June 2014)
HAWK WITH LEMMING 2008-04 (April 2008)
HUNTER AND SEAL 2012-09 (September 2012)
HUNTER WITH HIS DOG 2010-04 (April 2010)
HUNTER WITH MUSK OX 2008-04 (April 2008)
KNEELING CARIBOU 2013-02 (February 2013)
KNEELING HUNTER 2013-09 (September 2013)
KNEELING MAN 2017-11 (November 2017)
KNEELING MOTHER WEARING SNOW GOGGLES WITH HER CHILD 2017-05 (May 2017)
KNEELING MOTHER WITH CHILD IN HER AMAUT 2011-11 (November 2011)
LOON 2011-11 (November 2011)
LOON WITH FISH 2019-05 (May 2019)
LOONS 2013-03 (March 2013)
MAN WITH HIS DOG 2018-09 (September 2018)
MAN WITH PACK 2009-04 (April 2009)
MOTHER CRADLING CHILD 2008-04 (April 2008)
MOTHER WITH CHILD IN HER AMAUT 2012-04 (April 2012)
MOTHER WITH CHILDREN 2019-05 (May 2019)
MUSK OX 2014-11 (November 2014)
OWL 2018-05 (May 2018)
OWL LANDING 2007-11 (November 2007)
OWL WITH ARCTIC HARE 2011-11 (November 2011)
OWL WITH PLUMAGE 2015-11 (November 2015)
OWL WITH WINGS RAISED 2012-04 (April 2012)
OWL WITH YOUNG 2010-11 (November 2010)
PERCHED OWL 2012-11 (November 2012)
PLAYFUL SEAL 2019-11 (November 2019)
PLAYFUL WHALE 2018-11 (November 2018)
POLAR BEAR 2019-11 (November 2019)
POLAR BEAR WITH CUB AND SEAL 2014-11 (November 2014)
POLAR BEAR WITH SEAL PUP 2008-04 (April 2008)
RECLINING CARIBOU 2013-11 (November 2013)
RESTING CARIBOU 2018-11 (November 2018)
RUNNING CARIBOU 2019-11 (November 2019)
SEAL 2012-04 (April 2012)
SEATED WOMAN 2009-11 (November 2009)
SEDNA AND WALRUS 2008-04 (April 2008)
SEDNA SWIMMING WITH HER YOUNG 2019-05 (May 2019)
SPIRIT TOTEM 2012-04 (April 2012)
STANDING CARIBOU 2019-05 (May 2019)
TOTEM 2019-11 (November 2019)
TRANSFORMATION 2011-05 (May 2011)
TUSK WITH ETCHED SCENES OF HUNTERS, IGLOO BUILDING, MOTHER WITH CHILD AND ARCTIC ANIMALS 2012-11 (November 2012)
TWO GOSLINGS 2017-05 (May 2017)
WALRUS 2017-05 (May 2017)
WALRUS / SHAMAN 2008-04 (April 2008)
WALRUS AND POLAR BEAR CUB 2018-11 (November 2018)
WALRUS AND PUP 2019-05 (May 2019)
WALRUS OWL TRANSFORMATION 2018-05 (May 2018)
WALRUS SHAMAN 2017-05 (May 2017)
WOMAN AND CHILD 2011-11 (November 2011)
WOMAN WITH KUDLIK 2008-04 (April 2008)
YOUNG CARIBOU 2011-10 (October 2011)

Recent Auction Results

POLAR BEAR
Estimate: 1,500 — 1,800
Sold: Nov 2019 — Sold For: $2,280
PLAYFUL SEAL
Estimate: 2,500 — 3,500
Sold: Nov 2019 — Sold For: $3,120
TOTEM
Estimate: 5,000 — 7,000
Sold: Nov 2019 — Sold For: $4,800
FISHERWOMAN
Estimate: 30,000 — 40,000
Sold: Nov 2019 — Sold For: $50,400
RUNNING CARIBOU
Estimate: 8,000 — 12,000
Sold: Nov 2019 — Sold For: $9,600
FIGURES, GOOSE, OWL, POLAR BEAR
Estimate: 6,000 — 9,000
Sold: Nov 2019 — Sold For: $6,000

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