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Kovinatilliak Parr

 (1893 - 1969)
Kovinatilliak Parr was active/lived in Quebec, British Columbia / Canada.  Kovinatilliak Parr is known for Inuit etching, painting, drawing.

Kovinatilliak Parr

Biography from the Archives of askART

Parr (1893 - 1969)

An important Inuit draftsman and printmaker, Parr (aka: E71022, aka: < ) was born on the southern coast of Baffin Island, Canada and died in Cape Dorset (a village on Baffin Island) where he had lived since about 1961. He is the subject of an illustrated entry in the Canadian Encyclopedia; his works have been included in numerous major exhibitions; and examples of his drawings and prints are in the permanent collections of several important museums including the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), the British Museum (London), and the Museum of Modern Art (New York City). (1)(2)

Parr's mediums were graphite, colored pencil, felt-tip pen, wax crayon, oil pastel, charcoal, stonecut print*, stencil print* and etching*. His best known subjects were of hunting, Inuit genre and animals. His style is described as Primitive Art* or Inuit Art*. The AskART images are excellent illustrations of his work.

Parr began his artistic career when he was 68 years old. Like many Inuit artists, he was largely self-taught. However his introduction to creating art is generally credited to Terrence Ryan, the resident arts advisor in Cape Dorset. (3)(4)

Quote: "Parr and his wife Eleeshushe lived a traditional nomadic hunting life, wintering at Tessikjakjuak 'Fish Lakes' and spending the summer at Tikerak or Nita camp, until poor health and increasing age forced him to move to Kinngait [Cape Dorset] in late 1961. Encouraged by Terry Ryan, he began to draw using graphite on paper during the spring of 1961 while he was still living at Tessikjakjuak just north of Kinngait [Cape Dorset]. One of the few artists from the community to seldom depict myth or shamanic transformation in his work, Parr is best known for his narrative drawings of animals, hunters and the hunt. The images that populate his drawings and prints are memories recalled from his early years as a hunter living on the land. He favoured the stonecut and stencil method of printmaking and never fully embraced the engraving medium. He also enjoyed working in coloured pencil, pastel and felt-tip pen in addition to graphite when executing his drawings. The few years that he worked as an artist were quite productive; he created over 2000 drawings during this time, and has been credited with recording an ending way of life for generations to come. Of the many honours realized posthumously his print Hunters of Old was selected for a 1977 Canadian postage stamp." (5)

Parr's works have been included in dozens of important exhibitions, such as "Cape Dorset - A Decade of Eskimo Prints & Recent Sculpture", National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (1967); "The Woodget Collection of Eskimo Art and Artifacts", Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax (1970); "The Art of the Eskimo", Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, B.C. (1971); "Eskimo Art", Queens Museum, Flushing, New York (1974); "The Inuit Print", National Museum of Man [now Canadian Museum of Civilization], Ottawa (1977 - 1982); "The Zazelenchuk Collection of Eskimo Art", Winnipeg Art Gallery*, Manitoba (1978); "Eskimo Narrative", Winnipeg Art Gallery*, Manitoba (1979); "Canadian Eskimo Art: A Representative Exhibition from the Collection of Professor and Mrs. Philip Gray", Fine Arts Gallery, Montana State University, Bozeman (1979); "Images of the Inuit", Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, B.C. (1979 - 1981); "Inuit Graphics", Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Quebec (1980); "The Klamer Family Collection of Inuit Art", University of Guelph, Ontario (1980); "The Jacqui and Morris Shumiatcher Collection of Inuit Art", McKenzie Art Gallery, Regina, Saskatchewan (1981); "Eskimo Games: Graphics and Sculpture", National Gallery of Modern Art, Rome, Italy (1981); "Cape Dorset Engravings", Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (1981 - 1983); "Inuit Masterworks", McMichael Canadian Collection, Kleinberg, Ontario (1983); "Grasp Tight the Old Ways: Selections from the Klamer Family Collection of Inuit Art", Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (1983 - 1985); "Cape Dorset Prints: Twenty-Five Years", National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (1984); "Stones, Bones, Cloth, and Paper", Edmonton Art Gallery [now Art Gallery of Alberta], Edmonton, Alberta (1984 - 1985); "Uumajut: Animal Imagery in Inuit Art", Winnipeg Art Gallery*, Manitoba (1985); "From Drawing to Print: Perceptions and Process in Cape Dorset Art", Glenbow Museum, Calgary, Alberta (1986); "Contemporary Inuit Art", National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (1986); "The Swinton Collection of Inuit Art", Winnipeg Art Gallery*, Manitoba (1987); "Contemporary Inuit Drawings", Macdonald Stewart Art Centre, Guelph, Ontario (1987 - 1988); "The World Around Me", University of Lethbridge Art Gallery, Alberta (1988); "In the Shadow of the Sun: Contemporary Indian and Inuit Art in Canada", Canadian Museum of Civilization, Gatineau, Quebec and touring (1988 - 1989); "Cape Dorset Printmaking 1959 - 1989", McMichael Canadian Collection, Kleinburg, Ontario (1989); "Spoken in Stone: An Exhibition of Inuit Art", Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Banff, Alberta (1989); "A New Day Dawning: Early Cape Dorset Prints", University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (1989); "Inuit Graphic Art", Winnipeg Art Gallery*, Manitoba (1989); "Inuit Art from the Glenbow Collection", Glenbow Museum, Calgary, Alberta (1990); "Three Decades of Inuit Printmaking", McMichael Canadian Collection, Kleinburg, Ontario (1991 - 1992); "Inuit Art: Drawings and Recent Sculpture", National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (1992); "Cape Dorset Revisited", McMichael Canadian Collection, Kleinburg, Ontario (1994); "On Collectors and Collecting: Selections from the Herb & Cece Schreiber Family Collection", Art Gallery of Hamilton, Ontario (1994); "Arctic Spirit: 35 Years of Canadian Inuit Art", Frye Art Museum, Seattle (1994); "Cape Dorset Impressions: Inuit Stonecut and Stencil Print Techniques", National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (1995); "Thoughts of Birds", National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (1997); "Arctic Spirit: Canadian Inuit Sculpture", Boise State University, Boise, Idaho (2000); "Land of Ice, Hearts of Fire: Inuit Art and Culture", University Gallery, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware (2003); "Arctic Spirit: Inuit Art from the Albrecht Collection at the Heard Museum", Heard Museum, Phoenix, Arizona (touring the USA 2006 - 2011); and, "Kinngait: Highlights from the Collection", McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Kleinburg, Ontario (2007).

He has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Quebec (1973); Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, Nova Scotia (1988); and the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (1997).

His works have also been included in solo and group exhibitions at prominent commercial galleries, such as Feheley Fine Arts, Toronto; Gallery One, Toronto; Isaacs Gallery, Toronto; Kofler Gallery, Toronto; The Innuit Gallery of Eskimo Art, Toronto; Upstairs Gallery, Winnipeg; Canadiana Galleries, Edmonton; Inuit Gallery of Vancouver, B.C.; Arctic Artistry, Scarsdale, New York; Casino Gallery, Chicago; Inuk 1 Gallery, San Francisco; The Arctic Circle, Los Angeles; Snow Goose Associates, Seattle; and Gimpel Fils, London, England.

Parr's drawings and prints are in many  important private collections (see exhibition titles) and public collections. According to the Canadian Heritage Information Network* and individual museum websites, his works are in the permanent collections of the Art Gallery of Alberta (Edmonton), Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (Halifax), Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), Art Gallery of Windsor (Ontario), British Museum (London, England), Canadian Museum of Civilization (Gatineau, Quebec), Carleton University Art Gallery (Ottawa, Ontario), Confederation Centre Art Gallery & Museum (Charlottetown, P.E.I.), Dennos Museum Center, (Northwestern Michigan College, Traverse City, Michigan), Glenbow Museum (Calgary, Alberta), Heard Museum (Phoenix, Arizona), Macdonald Stewart Art Centre (Guelph, Ontario), Mackenzie Art Gallery (Regina, Saskatchewan), McMichael Canadian Art Collection (Kleinburg, Ontario), Mendel Art Gallery (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan), Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art (Quebec), Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Quebec), Museum of Anthropology (University of British Columbia, Vancouver),  Museum London (Ontario), Museum of Modern Art (New York City), Owens Art Gallery (Sackville, N.B.), Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology (Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts), Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre (Yellowknife, Northwest Territories), Quebec Museum of Fine Arts (Quebec City), Simon Fraser University Gallery (Burnaby, B.C.), Vancouver Art Gallery (B.C.), Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies (Banff, Alberta), Winnipeg Art Gallery* (Manitoba) and the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa). His works are also on display in the corporate collection of the TD Bank Group located at the TD Gallery of Inuit Art, Toronto-Dominion Centre, Toronto, Ontario. (6)
(1) Parr had a Canadian government issued Inuit Disc Number* - E71022 - which may have been used to identify his works. However, his most frequent method of signing was with the syllabic* character for "pa" which is "<". It can be easily seen on the illustrations of his works in AskART.

(2) Parr was the husband of Eleeshushe Parr, father of Nuna Parr and grandfather of Peter Parr (see all in AskART). Source: Dennos Museum Center website.

(3) For more information about the origin and inspiration of Inuit Art* see the AskART glossary entry for Inuit Art*.

(4) Cape Dorset is home to an Inuit artist colony founded in the early 1950s by James Huston (see AskART glossary for Inuit Art). Parr and Kenojuak Ashevak were perhaps its two most famous residents. In 1975 artist Toni Onley (see AsKART) visited Cape Dorset, in his diary he wrote: 'Cape Dorset is a unique Inuit settlement, almost exclusively concerned with the production of prints and carvings in stone and ivory. It is the wealthiest of the many Inuit co-operatives across the Arctic. At the time the average income here was $20,000 per capita, making it the highest in North America, and probably the world.' Source: Page 84, Onley's Arctic: Diaries and Paintings of the High Arctic"(1989), by Toni Onley; Published by Douglas & McIntyre Ltd., Vancouver.

(5) Source: Centre for Contemporary Canadian Art*.

(6) Please note: Biographies of Inuit Artists"(see AskART book references) lists several more museums as collectors of Parr's works; however, at the time of writing, they could not be independently confirmed online. The names of the these additional museum collectors are the Agnes Etherington Art Centre (Kingston, Ontario), Amon Carter Museum of American Art (Fort Worth Texas), Art Gallery of York University (Downsview, Ontario); Denver Art Museum (Denver, Colorado), Laurentian University Museum [now Art Gallery of Sudbury] (Sudbury, Ontario), Royal Ontario Museum (Toronto), and the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery (Lethbridge, Alberta).
Arctic Spirit: Inuit Art from the Albrecht Collection at the Heard Museum (2006), by Ingo Hessel (see AskART book references)

Biographical Index of Artists in Canada (2003), by Evelyn de Rostaing McMann (see AskART book references)

Canadian Art: From its Beginnings to 2000 (2002), by Anne Newlands (see AskART book references)

Inuit Art: A History (2000), by Richard C. Crandall (see AskART book references)

Sculpture of the Inuit (2000), by George Swinton (see AskART book references)

Canadian Art in the Twentieth Century (1999), by Joan Murray (see AskART book references)

Inuit Art: An Introduction (1998), by Ingo Hessel and Dieter Hessel (see AskART book references)

Biographies of Inuit Artists (1993), compiled and published by the Inuit Art Section, Indian and Northern Affairs (see AskART book references)

Art and Architecture in Canada (1991), by Loren R. Lerner and Mary F. Williamson (see AskART book references)

Art Gallery of Ontario - Selected Works"(1990), by William J. Withrow, et al. (see AskART book references)

National Gallery of Canada - Guide (1988), by Suzanne La Casse (see AskART book references)

Inuit Art: An Anthology"
(1988), by Alma Houston, et al (see AskART book references)

The Canadian Encyclopedia
(1985), edited by James H. Marsh (see AskART book references)

A Dictionary of Canadian Artists: Volume 5, Nadeau - Perrigard (1977), by Colin S. MacDonald (see AskART book references)

The McMichael Canadian Collection"(1976), by Paul Duval (see AskART book references)

Inunnit: The Art of the Canadian Eskimo (1970), by W.T. Larmour (see AskART book references)

Canadian Heritage Information Network* (includes Artists in Canada, the Inuit Art Foundation, and Nunavik Art Alive)

National Gallery of Canada

Centre for Contemporary Canadian Art*

Canadian Postal Archives Database

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary

Written and submitted by M.D. Silverbrooke.

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at

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Photo courtesy of “Inunnit: The Art of the Canadian Eskimo” (see books).

About  Kovinatilliak Parr

Born:  1893 - Baffin Island, Canada
Died:   1969 - Cape Dorset, Baffin Island, Canada
Known for:  Inuit etching, painting, drawing