Indigenous peoples of the Arctic have been making art for thousands of years. In this exhibit, we will look at an ancient artifact fashioned by unknown hands, the work of the first generation of Inuit artists, and two contemporary Inuit artists whose work has become part of the international art world.
For most contemporary art critics, the term “decorative” is pejorative, implying that a work, while perhaps pretty, lacks content and depth. The decorative arts, it is commonly assumed, have two features that are at odds with what we think of as fine art: decorative art is typically associated with function – glasses, plates, bowls, jars, carpets, clothes – and its purpose is to project a style or mood rather than to transmit meaning and incite dialogue.
This Collection explores visual arts in Canada through articles, photo galleries, Heritage Minutes and more, and is presented in partnership with Charles Bronfman’s Claridge Collection. Above image: Untitled. Acrylic on canvas, painted by Max Johnson. Courtesy of the Charles Bronfman's Claridge Collection.
In 1848-49 Bellevue was leased to John A. MacDonald, then a member of the Legislative Assembly and receiver general for the Province of Canada. Bellevue was purchased by Parks Canada in 1964 and is now operated as a national historic park. It has been restored to the late 1840s period.
Contemporary Indigenous (Aboriginal) art is that which has been produced by Indigenous peoples between around 1945 up to the present. Since that time, two major schools of Aboriginal art have dominated the contemporary scene in Canada: West Coast Aboriginal art and the Woodlands school of Legend Painters.
The history of Inuit cultures and the art of the various regions and times can only be understood if the myth of a homogeneous Inuit culture is discarded altogether. Though it has not been possible to determine the exact origin(s) of the Inuit, nor of the various Inuit cultures, five distinct cultures have been established in the Canadian area: Pre-Dorset , Dorset , Thule, Historic and Contemporary.
Parallels and Contrasts in the Visual Arts and Music: A comparative study of the development of the two sister arts in Canada had not been published, although Maria Tippett's Making Culture (Toronto 1990) reviews broad trends in anglophone Canada from the late 19th to the mid-20th century.
The Inuit artist Pitseolak Ashoona was born in a skin tent between 1904 and 1908 while her family was making a spring trek from Salluit, in the Nunavik region of Arctic Québec, to the south coast of Baffin Island (Qikiqtaaluk), during an era when Europeans still had relatively little impact on the far north and when the Inuit still lived on the land as semi-nomadic subsistence hunters and trappers.