Found a book of Inuit art at the library, Sculpture/Inuit: Sculpture of the Inuit: masterworks of the Canadian Arctic (1971). I’ve scanned some of my favorite ones:

img004img011img017Excerpts from the text:

The best Eskimo carvings of all ages seem to possess a powerful ability to reach across the great barriers of language and time and communicate directly with us. The more we look at these carvings, the more life we perceive hidden within them. We discover subtle living forms of the animal, human, and mystical world….

They are among the last of the hunting societies that have retained some part of the keen sense of observation that we have so long forgotten. The carvers are also butchers of meat, and therefore masters in the understanding of animal anatomy. Flesh and bones and sheaths of muscle seem to move in their works. They show us how to drive the caribou, how to hold a child, how to walk cautiously on thin ice… In the very best of Eskimo art we see vibrant animal and human forms that stand quietly or tensely, strongly radiating a sense of life. We can see, and even feel with our hands, the cold sleekness of seals, the hulking weight of walrus, the ice swiftness of trout, the flowing rhythm in a flight of geese…

According to the Eskimo, the best carvings possess a sense of movement that seems to come from within the material itself, a feeling of tension, a living excitement.

– “To find life in the Stone,” by James Houston (essay)

 

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