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 John Tiktak  (1916 - 1981)

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Lived/Active: Northwest Territories / Canada      Known for: Inuit stone figural sculpture-semi abstraction

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Ad Code: 3
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
Couple, ca. 1962-63
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
John Tiktak RCA (1916 – 1981) (1)

“Few who work in stone in all the world can claim such purity, such quiet strength, such cool and lovely lines, such simple, straight humanity.” Robert Williamson (2)

An important Canadian Inuit (Eskimo) sculptor and carver, John Tiktak was born on the west coast of Hudson Bay between Arviat (aka: Eskimo Point), Keewatin and Tikiraqjuaq (aka: Whale Cove), Keewatin and died in Kangiqlliniq (aka: Rankin Inlet), Keewatin, where he had been living since 1958. His life and work are discussed in most books on Inuit art. His carvings have been included in numerous landmark exhibitions, and they’re prized acquisitions in prominent public and private collections. (3)

His primary medium was stone. His subjects were faces, heads, figures, mothers with babies, grouped figures, families, symbolism and spirituality. His styles were Modernism* and Minimalism*; his typical work is semi abstract; the AskART images are excellent illustrations of it. (4)

Tiktak was largely self-educated as an artist; he was a nomadic hunter for most of his life, and a miner from 1958 to 1962. He began carving fulltime shortly after the mine closed in 1962. Some sources note that he may have been carving in his spare time, to sell to tourists, as early as 1959.

He was one of the first Inuit artists to have a major catalogued exhibition in a public gallery. “Tiktak: Sculptor from Rankin Inlet, NWT [Northwest Territories]” was presented at the University of Manitoba School of Art, Winnipeg in 1970.

Since the mid 1960s his carvings have been included in numerous important group exhibitions, such as “Eskimo Sculpture”, Winnipeg Art Gallery, Manitoba (1967); “The Mulders’ Collection of Eskimo Sculpture”, Winnipeg Art Gallery, Manitoba (1976); “The Zazelenchuk Collection of Eskimo Art”, Winnipeg Art Gallery, Manitoba (1978); “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, [renamed Canadian Museum of Civilization in 1986] touring (1981); “Rankin Inlet/ Kangirlliniq”, Winnipeg Art Gallery, Manitoba (1981); “The Jacqui and Morris Shumiatcher Collection of Inuit Art”, Mackenzie Art Gallery, Regina (1981); “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); “Stones, Bones, Cloth, and Paper: Inuit Art in Edmonton Collections”, Edmonton Art Gallery, Alberta (1984); “Pure Vision: The Keewatin Spirit”, MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina, Saskatchewan (1986); “The Williamson Collection of Inuit Sculpture”, Mackenzie Art Gallery, Regina (1987); “The Swinton Collection of Inuit Art”, Winnipeg Art Gallery, Manitoba (1987); “Inuit Images in Transition”, Augusta Savage Gallery, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA (1988); “Mother and Child”, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (1989); “Moving Around the Form: Inuit Sculpture and Prints”, Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Kingston, Ontario (1991); “In the Shadow of the Sun: Contemporary Indian and Inuit Art in Canada”, Canadian Museum of Civilization, Gatineau, Quebec (1988); “Rings: Five Passions in World Art”, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia (1996 Olympic exhibition); “Iqqaipaa: Celebrating Inuit Art, 1948 – 1970”, Canadian Museum of Civilization, Gatineau, Quebec (1999); “Arctic Spirit: Inuit Art from the Albrecht Collection at the Heard Museum”, Heard Museum, Phoenix (and touring the USA 2006 – 2011); and “Canada Collects: Treasures from Across the Nation”, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto (2007).

Recently, his works were included in “Inuit Modern: The Samuel and Esther Sarick Collection”, at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (2011); and currently they’re in “Creation & Transformation: Defining Moments in Inuit Art”, Winnipeg Art Gallery (January 25, 2013 to April 14, 2013).

His works have also been included in many solo and group exhibitions at prominent commercial galleries, such as Lippel Gallery, Montreal; Robertson Galleries, Toronto and Ottawa; Koffler Gallery, Toronto; Fleet Galleries, Winnipeg; Canadiana Galleries, Edmonton; Inuit Gallery of Vancouver, B.C.; Marion Scott Gallery, Vancouver, B.C.;  Arctic Artistry, Scarsdale, New York; and  Waddington Galleries, London, England.

Tiktak’s carvings are in numerous important private collections (see exhibitions and books) and museum 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 Ontario (Toronto), Canadian Museum of Civilization (Gatineau, Quebec), Carleton University Art Gallery (Ottawa, Ontario), Heard Museum (Phoenix, Arizona), Mackenzie Art Gallery (Regina, Saskatchewan), McMichael Canadian Art Collection (Kleinburg, Ontario), Mendel Art Gallery (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan), Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Quebec), Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre (Yellowknife, Northwest Territories), Quebec Museum of Fine Arts (Quebec City), Vancouver Art Gallery (B.C.), Winnipeg Art Gallery (Manitoba) and the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa). His works are also in the collection of the TD Gallery of Inuit Art at the Toronto-Dominion Centre, Toronto, Ontario.

In 1973 Tiktak was elected a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts*.
 
Footnotes:
(1) Please note: The Canadian Heritage Information Network* and Katilvik.com list several alternate names for this artist; they are: Tittak, Tictac and Titak. Combinations of two of these names may also be used without the first name John. There is also his Canadian government issued Inuit Disc Number* – E1266 – which has been used to sign works, and his signature in syllabics*, which has also been used to sign works. For an illustration of Tiktak’s name spelled in syllabics please see AskART Signature Examples.

(2) Source: Page 307, Canadian Art: From its Beginnings to 2000 (2002), by Anne Newlands (see AskART book references).

(3) Please note: Arviat (aka: Eskimo Point), Tikiraqjuaq (aka: Whale Cove) and Kangiqlliniq (aka: Rankin Inlet) are all in what was formerly called the district of Keewatin a part of the eastern Northwest Territories, Canada. In 1999, Keewatin was completely absorbed into the much larger new Canadian territory of Nunavut. Source: Government of Nunavut.

(4) “Noted primarily as a stone carver, Tiktak participated for a time in the Rankin Inlet Ceramics Project (1963 – 1977), which was implemented by the federal government's Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, where he produced works in clay.”Source: A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, volume 9 (2008), by Judith Parker; National Gallery of Canada (online only).

Sources:
Creation & Transformation: Defining Moments in Inuit Art (2012), edited by Darlene Coward Wight (see AskART book references) – exhibition catalogue

Inuit Modern: The Samuel and Esther Sarick Collection (2011), edited by Gerald McMaster (see AskART book references) – exhibition catalogue

Canada Collects: Treasures from Across the Nation (2007), edited by Kenneth R. Lister (see AskART book references) – exhibition catalogue

Arctic Spirit: Inuit Art from the Albrecht Collection at the Heard Museum (2006), by Ingo Hessel (see AskART book references) – exhibition catalogue

Hidden in Plain Sight: Contributions of Aboriginal Peoples to Canadian Identity and Culture, Volume 1 (2005), edited by David Newhouse, Cora J. Voyageur and Dan Beavon (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)

Celebrating Inuit Art: 1948 – 1970 (1999), edited by Maria Von Finckenstein (see AskART book references) – exhibition catalogue

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

Rings: Five Passions in World Art (1996), by John Carter Brown, Jennifer Montagu, Michael Edward Shapiro, J. Carter Brown (see AskART book references) – exhibition catalogue

In the Shadow of the Sun: Perspectives on Contemporary Native Art (1993), edited by the Canadian Museum of Civilization (see AskART book references) – exhibition catalogue

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

Sculpture of the Inuit (1992), by George Swinton (see AskART book references) – exhibition catalogue

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

The Canadian Encyclopedia, Second Edition (1988), edited by James H. Marsh (see AskART book references)

The Swinton Collection of Inuit Art (1987), by Darlene Wight (see AskART book references) – exhibition catalogue

Pure Vision: The Keewatin Spirit (1986), by Norman Zepp (see AskART book references) – exhibition catalogue

Grasp Tight the Old Ways: Selections from the Klamer Family Collection of Inuit Art (1983), by Jean Blodgett (see AskART book references) – exhibition catalogue

The Jacqui and Morris Shumiatcher Collection of Inuit Art (1981), by Nelda Swinton (see AskART book references) – exhibition catalogue

Passionate Spirits: A History of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, 1880 – 1980 (1980), by Rebecca Sisler (see AskART book references)

Landmarks of Canadian Art (1978), by Peter Mellen (see AskART book references)

Canadian Heritage Information Network* (biography, museums)

Centre for Contemporary Canadian Art*

National Gallery of Canada (library and exhibitions records)

Art Gallery of Ontario (book and catalogue summaries online)

Katilvik.com (biography, exhibitions)

Simon Fraser University (library records)

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see AskART.com. Glossary http://www.askart.com/AskART/lists/Art_Definition.aspx.

Prepared and contributed by M.D. Silverbrooke.
 

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at registrar@AskART.com.
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