National Gallery of Canada
Curator(s): Christine Lalonde, Associate Curator, Indigenous Art
Number of works: 2,000 Inuit
First work(s): The first sculptures were acquired in 1956, while Alan Jarvis was the Director. He was an immediate supporter of Inuit art and active member on the first Canadian Eskimo Art Committee.
Recent acquisition(s): Jamasee Pitseolak, My Second Grader (2010); Igah Hainnu, Bee (c. 2014-15); Jutai Toonoo (19592015), Time (You Will Run Out) (2013); Tim Pitsiulak (1967-2016) My New Hero GoPro 4 (2015).
Significant exhibitions: The NGC has been exhibiting Inuit art for decades, starting with the first show, Eskimo Art, in 1951, Pudlo: Thirty Years of Drawing (1990), the first solo show for an Inuit artist at the gallery, and Uuturautiit: Cape Dorset Celebrates 50 Years of Printmaking (2009).
Interesting/unique/surprising works in the collection: Three sculptures by Olive Mamak Innakatsik (1915-1994) from 1978—Bear with Catch, Wolf with Catch and Caribou Head—are small enough to hold in hand, with exquisite ivory parts, such as the fish in the bear’s mouth.
In 2017, with the rename of its permanent collection wing to the Canadian and Indigenous Galleries and the wing’s renovation for the first time in 30 years, Inuit artists will take their place among their contemporaries, including Paul-Émile Borduas and Jean-Paul Riopelle. This transformation will continue throughout the Contemporary Galleries, including a dedicated space to new directions in Inuit art. The NGC’s special exhibitions will also show the strong presence of Inuit art through the international Indigenous quinquennial show in 2018 and in featured solo shows, such as Nick
Sikkuark (1943-2013) in 2019. The momentum is growing for Inuit art at the National Gallery of Canada! — CL
Annie Pootoogook (19692016 Kinngait) Underwear 2006 Coloured pencil and felt pen 50.8 x 65.8 cm National Gallery of Canada