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Luke Iksiktaaryuk

 (1909 - 1977)
Luke Iksiktaaryuk was active/lived in Nunavut / Canada.  Luke Iksiktaaryuk is known for Inuit sculpture, carving, printmaking, drawing.

Luke Iksiktaaryuk

Biography from the Archives of askART

Biography photo for Luke Iksiktaaryuk
Luke Iksiktaaryuk (1909 - 1977) (1)

An important Canadian sculptor, carver, printmaker and draftsman, Luke Iksiktaaryuk was born in the Kazan River area of Nunavut and died in Baker Lake (aka: Qamanittuaq), Nunavut, where he had been living since the mid 1950s. His life and work are discussed in most books on Inuit art. His antler carvings, prints and drawings have been included in numerous landmark exhibitions, and they're prized acquisitions in prominent public and private collections.

Iksiktaaryuk's most well-known medium was caribou antler carvings which frequently incorporated other mediums such as wood, gut, hide, sinew, fleece, seal skin and metal. He also produced stonecut* and stencil prints, and drawings using colored pencil, pencil, ink, and felt pen. His subjects included Inuit genre (e.g. family activities, drum dances, fishing, hunting, migration, etc.), figures, animals (e.g. caribou, fish, dogs, and birds), mythology, legends, spirituality, and social commentary. His style is usually described in the modern art terms of Expressionism* and Minimalism*; Surrealism* would also apply to some of his spiritual subjects. The AskART images are excellent illustrations of his work. (2)

Iksiktaaryuk was largely self-educated as an artist; he was a nomadic hunter for most of his life, he began carving in the mid 1960s when the caribou became scarce in his region and fur prices dropped drastically. He, like many Inuit artists, was probably encouraged to adapt to his new non-nomadic life with government sponsored arts and crafts programs. They provided the Inuit with technical support (e.g. facilities, management, tools, supplies, professional printmakers, instruction, art books, etc.), suggestions as to what to make such as subject matter and materials to use (e.g. what would sell), and the means to sell what was produced (e.g. organization, access to dealers, co-ops, exhibitions, catalogues, etc.). (3)

During his life and posthumously, Iksiktaaryuk's works were included in numerous important exhibitions such as "Eskimo Carvers of Keewatin", Winnipeg Art Gallery, Manitoba (1964); "The People Within - Art from Baker Lake", Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (1976); "The Inuit Print", National Museum of Man [renamed Canadian Museum of Civilization in 1986], Ottawa  (1977); "The Coming and Going of the Shaman: Eskimo Shamanism and Art", Winnipeg Art Gallery, Manitoba (1978); "Polar Vision: Canadian Eskimo Graphics", Jerusalem Artists' House Museum, Israel (1978); "Inuit Art in the 1970s", Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Kingston, Ontario (1979); "The Inuit Amautik: I Like My Hood To Be Full", Winnipeg Art Gallery, Manitoba (1980); "Eskimo Games: Graphics and Sculpture", National Gallery of Modern Art, Rome, Italy (1981); "Grasp Tight the Old Ways: Selections from the Klamer Family Collection of Inuit Art", Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (1983); "Inuit Masterworks", McMichael Canadian Collection, Kleinberg, Ontario (1983); "Uumajut: Animal Imagery in Inuit Art", Winnipeg Art Gallery, Manitoba (1985); Pure Vision: The Keewatin Spirit", MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina, Saskatchewan (1986); "In the Shadow of the Sun: Contemporary Indian and Inuit Art in Canada", Canadian Museum of Civilization, Gatineau, Quebec (1988); "Qamanittuaq: The Art of Baker Lake", National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (1990); "Arctic Spirit: 35 Years of Canadian Inuit Art", Frye Art Museum, Seattle (1994); and "Iqqaipaa: Celebrating Inuit Art, 1948 - 1970", Canadian Museum of Civilization, Gatineau, Quebec (1999).

Recently, his carvings were included in "Arctic Spirit: Inuit Art from the Albrecht Collection at the Heard Museum", Heard Museum, Phoenix (and touring the USA 2006 - 2011); and "Inuit Modern: The Samuel and Esther Sarick Collection", at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (2011). His works will be featured in "Creation & Transformation: Defining Moments in Inuit Art" which opens at the Winnipeg Art Gallery on January 25, 2013 and runs until April 14, 2013.

Iksiktaaryuk's works have also frequently been included in solo and group exhibitions at prominent commercial galleries such as The Inuit Gallery of Eskimo Art, Toronto, Ontario; The Upstairs Gallery, Winnipeg, Manitoba; Inuit Gallery of Vancouver, B.C.; Marion Scott Gallery, Vancouver, B.C.; The Arctic Circle, Los Angeles, California; and Arctic Artistry, Scarsdale, New York.

His works are in numerous private and museum collections. According to the Canadian Heritage Information Network* and individual museum websites, his museum collectors include the Agnes Etherington Art Centre (Kingston, Ontario), 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), Museum of Anthropology (University of British Columbia, Vancouver), Owens Art Gallery (Sackville, N.B.), Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre (Yellowknife, Northwest Territories), Winnipeg Art Gallery (Manitoba), and the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa). The Lorne Balshine Inuit Art Collection also has a carving by Iksiktaaryuk on display at Vancouver International Airport, Vancouver, B.C.
(1) Please note: The Canadian Heritage Information Network* and list several alternate names for this artist; they are: Ikseetakyuk, Ikseetaryuk, Ikseektaryuk, Ikseetarkyuk and Takessetarkyuk. Combinations of two of these names may also be used without the first name Luke. Then there's his Canadian government issued Inuit Disc Number* - E245 - which may be used to sign works, and his signature in syllabics*, which is used to sign works, it can be easily seen on the base of the AskART illustration of the carving titled Walking man and faintly seen on the AskART illustration of the stencil titled Crane. For another illustration of Iksiktaaryuk's name spelled in syllabics please see AskART Signature Examples. (M. Silverbrooke)

(2) The first print produced in Baker Lake was Iksiktaaryuk's 1969 stonecut* titled Trout. Source: Inuit art: An Anthology (1988), by Alma Houston, et al (see AskART book references).

(3) The sources for much of the information in paragraph three are the Baker Lake Arts website and the paper titled "The History of Baker Lake (Sanavik) Co-operative" (2010), by Jennifer Alsop. For more information, both can be accessed online at their respective links - and (M. Silverbrooke)
Creation & Transformation: Defining Moments in Inuit Art (2012), edited by Darlene Coward Wight (see AskART book references)
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)
Celebrating Inuit Art: 1948 - 1970 (1999), edited by Maria Von Finckenstein (see AskART book references)
Inuit Art: an introduction (1998), by Ingo Hessel, 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)
Sculpture of the Inuit (1992), by George Swinton (see AskART book references)
Art Gallery of Ontario - Selected Works (1990), by William J. Withrow, et al. (see AskART book references)
Inuit Art: An Anthology (1988), by Alma Houston, et al (see AskART book references)
Inuit Art Section: Catalogue of Services and Collections (1984), Research and Documentation Centre on Inuit Art (see AskART book references)
Sculpture of the Eskimo (1972), by George Swinton (see AskART book references)
Canadian Heritage Information Network* (biography, museums)
National Gallery of Canada (library and exhibitions records)
Art Gallery of Ontario (book and catalogue summaries online) (biography, exhibitions)
Simon Fraser University (library records)

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

Prepared and contributed to askART by M.D. Silverbrooke.

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

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About  Luke Iksiktaaryuk

Born:  1909 - Kazan River area, Nunavut
Died:   1977 - Baker Lake, (Qamanittuaq) Nunavut
Known for:  Inuit sculpture, carving, printmaking, drawing