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Inuit Sculpture Now


July 1to September 4, 2006

During the 1950s, the term “contemporary Inuit sculpture” was used to identify new work from that produced earlier, that is during the Prehistoric and Contact eras. Today, however, the use of this term to cover a fifty-year period has made it something of a misnomer.

This exhibition focuses on sculpture created over the past decade and looks at what is really “contemporary” within Inuit sculpture. Through a selection of twenty-five works, the exhibition explores the current ideas and the changes in the artists’ approach to sculpture – their choice of subject matter, and the media in which they work.

While sculpture created since the 1990s frequently adheres to traditional themes – such as Inuit stories and legends – the interpretations are informed by personal vision, experiences and concerns. It increasingly reflects changes in working conditions, style and media. For example, among some groups of artists, certainly in Cape Dorset, an aesthetic preference for highly polished, smooth, surfaces and clearly chiselled edges has emerged. By contrast, other artists prefer to explore the natural quality of their material by leaving it in its raw state, sometimes incorporating found objects into their work. Certainly, whatever the method and style, a wider range of media and of sculpting tools has made it possible for today’s artists to expand their means of expression.


National Gallery of Canada


Michael Massie, b.1962
unit-tea, 2000
silver and ebony
32.2 x 22.9 x 9.5 cm
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

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