This is a beautiful and unconventional depiction of a Bird attributed to Latcholassie Akesuk from around the 196o’s, from Cape Dorset.
This piece came to us from a private collector who said that this bird was part of a collection of Inuit Art that was on display at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto in the 1960’s.
We haven’t been able to authenticate the story, but the quality of this carving speaks for itself. Stylistically, remarkably modern, a beautiful piece of Canadian Heritage.
Latcholassie Akesuk was born on Anatalik Island, near Markham Bay, in what is now modern day Nunavut. Son of Tudlik, a well-known sculptor, Akesuk grew up on the land. When he began to carve he started by working primarily in stone, sculpting birds and animals. His work later became an inspiration to his granddaughter, Saimaiyu Akesuk, who recalls that seeing Latcholassie’s work encouraged her to begin drawing. When Saimaiyu began to work, her “late grandfather Latcholassie Akesuk’s carvings came to [her] mind. He used to make his birds, so that’s what [she] drew”
Akesuk worked from Kinngait (Cape Dorset), NU, where he had a very prolific artistic career. Leaning towards abstracted forms, Akesuk’s aesthetic expression is playful and has a softness due to the curvilinear shapes he carved. At the same his works maintained a visual weight, drawing attention to their solid and robust forms carved in stone. Akesuk often scratched small details into the surface in the form of eyes and feathers, inviting a closer look at the carving.
Untitled (fish) from 1970 is an example of the simplicity of design, but also the power of minimalism. The fish is carved from serpentinite stone and utilizes the stone’s natural colours to add depth to the minimally handled forms. The fins and tail are carved so that lighter striations of the stone are visible, while the naturally darker sections make up the body and head of the fish. Colour variations add a natural luminosity and depth to the carving. The deep greens and blues with speckles and waves take on an oceanic quality, with the sculpture itself embodying the habitat the fish would be a part of; the external colours reflect an imaginary ocean-scape.
Owl (1967) shares a similar style, with a dense form, and again guided by the variations of grey colour within the stone. The striations are dense and close together, resembling a feather plumage pattern, which Akesuk uses to his advantage in depicting a playful owl. Carving the form in curves with minimal detail, and Akesuk’s awareness of his material, results in the beauty of the natural stone being given equal prominence as the owl form he has carved out of it. The impression of weight is part of the final presentation, with the owl seated, its body half tucked upon itself, a solid figure once again drawing attention to its material.
Exhibiting in national and international exhibitions, Akesuk’s long career included a Canada Council Artist Grant, as well as international recognition. His work is held in collections around the world. This Bird attributed to Latcholassie Akesuk would make an excellent contribution to your collection.
Bio Latcholassie Akesuk
Latcholassie Akesuk, ᓚᓴᓚᓯ ᐊᑲᓴ
Settlement: Cape Dorset / Kinngait
(1919-2000) — E7-1055
Latcholassie Akesuk was born in 1919 and lived in Cape Dorset until his death in 2000. His father, Tudlik (1890-1966) was a well-known artist, and his children are also sculptors in Cape Dorset. He began carving in the early 1950s, with one of his works forming part of a 1953 exhibition in London, England commemorating the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
Latcholassie’s works are minimalistic in form; devoid of the detail and finish normally associated with Cape Dorset sculpture. His preferred subject are birds – a favoured subject of his father’s – and often of great size. In his later years, he worked mainly in the white marble from Andrew Gordon Bay to the east of Cape Dorset.
Annual Exhibition of Eskimo Sculptures and Prints, Lippel Gallery
Arctic Spirit 35 Years of Canadian Inuit Art, Frye Art Museum
Arctic Wildlife: The Art of the Inuit, Musee des Beaux-Arts de Montreal
Art/Inuit/Art: The Rothmans Permanent Collection of Eskimo Sculpture, Rothmans of Pall Mall Canada Ltd.
Baffin Island Sculpture, Inuit Gallery of Vancouver
Cape Dorset, Winnipeg Art Gallery
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 Stone Sculpture: Masters & the Next Generation, Inuit Gallery of Vancouver
Collector’s Choice: 1965-1980, Inuit Gallery of Vancouver
Contemporary Inuit Art, National Gallery of Canada
Decade of Mystery and Change: Tenth Anniversary Exhibit, The Arctic Circle
Eskimo Carvings: Coronation Exhibition, Gimpel Fils
Eskimo Fantastic Art, Gallery 111, School of Art, University of Manitoba
Eskimo Narrative, Winnipeg Art Gallery
Eskimo Sculpture, Winnipeg Art Gallery presented at the Manitoba Legislative Building
Fantasy and Stylization – Cape Dorset Sculpture, Inuit Gallery of Vancouver
Festival of Birds, The Arctic Circle
Granville Island Canadian Inuit Sculpture Exhibition (first exhibition), Vancouver Inuit Art Society
Grasp Tight the Old Ways: Selections from the Klamer Family Collection of Inuit Art, Art Gallery of Ontario
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
In Celebration, Canadian Guild of Crafts Quebec
Inspiration Four Decades of Sculpture, Marion Scott Gallery
INUA: 50 Works from the Cappadocia Collection of Inuit Art, McMaster Art Gallery
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 Legends in Stone, Canadian Guild of Crafts Quebec
Inuit Sculpture 1974/Sculpture Inuit 1974, Lippel Gallery
Inuit Sculpture from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Eugene B. Power, University of Michigan Museum of Art
Kanuitpit? Kunst und Kulturen der Eskimo: Eine Auswahl aus den Museumssammlungen, Staatliches Museum fur Volkerkunde Munchen
La deesse inuite de la mer/The Inuit Sea Goddess, Musee des beaux-arts de Montreal
Latcholassie, Inuit Gallery of Vancouver
Major/Minor, Marion Scott Gallery
Masterwork Sculpture 1985, Inuit Gallery of Vancouver
Multiple Realities: Inuit Images of Shamanic Transformation, Winnipeg Art Gallery
Mythology in Stone, Canadian Guild of Crafts Quebec
Our Hoods are Full, Arctic Artistry
Sculpture, Canadian Eskimo Arts Council a competition/exhibition organized as a contribution to the Centennial of the N.W.T.
Sculpture Inuit: Stone/Bone circa 1960-1979, Canadiana Galleries
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 Latcholassie, Cape Dorset, Lippel Gallery
Selections from the John and Mary Robertson Collection of Inuit Art, Agnes Etherington Art Centre Queen’s University
Small Sculptures by Great Artists I, Feheley Fine Arts
Small Sculptures by Great Artists III, Feheley Fine Arts
Stones, Bones, Cloth, and Paper: Inuit Art in Edmonton Collections, Edmonton Art Gallery
The Art of the Eskimo, Simon Fraser Gallery, Simon Fraser University
The Bear, the Owl, the Walrus, The Arctic Circle
The Birds of Cape Dorset: A collection of sculpture by 32 Cape Dorset Carvers, Albers Gallery
The Coming and Going of the Shaman: Eskimo Shamanism and Art, Winnipeg Art Gallery
The Inuit Imagination, Winnipeg Art Gallery
The Klamer Family Collection of Inuit Art from the Art Gallery of Ontario, University of Guelph
The Oral Tradition, National Museum of Man
The Spirit of the Land, The Koffler Gallery
The Swinton Collection of Inuit Art, Winnipeg Art Gallery
The Williamson Collection of Inuit Sculpture, Norman Mackenzie Art Gallery, University of Regina
Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Victoria
Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax
Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto
Canadian Guild of Crafts Quebec, Montreal
Canadian Museum of Civilization, Hull
Dennos Museum Center, Northwestern Michigan College, Traverse City
Edmonton Art Gallery, Edmonton
Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology, Brown University, Bristol
Inuit Cultural Institute, Rankin Inlet
Klamer Family Collection, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto
McMaster University Art Gallery, Hamilton
Musee des beaux-arts de Montreal, Montreal
Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre, Yellowknife
Rothmans Permanent Collection of Eskimo Sculpture, Toronto
Sarick Collection, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto
University of Lethbridge Art Gallery, Lethbridge
Winnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg