Inuit Art Auction

November 22, 2016

LOT 80
KAROO ASHEVAK (1940-1974)
  • KAROO ASHEVAK (1940-1974)
  • KAROO ASHEVAK (1940-1974)
  • KAROO ASHEVAK (1940-1974)


KAROO ASHEVAK (1940-1974), Spence Bay / Taloyoak


A monumental work in dense whalebone carved to both sides with dramatic shaman or spirit faces, highlighted by antler, stone and bone inlaid eyes and with inset bone teeth. The tattooed face grinning widely with a prominent third eye and the opposing face with crossed eyes, mouth agape and a removable tooth attached by sinew, signed in syllabics
14" x 19" x 6" — 35.6 x 48.3 x 15.2 cm.

Estimate $35,000-$45,000

Realised: $132,000
Price Includes Buyer's Premium ?

About artist/note:

Karoo Ashevak is perhaps the most internationally recognized Canadian Inuit sculptor. Very few works prior to 1970 have been discovered, his main body of work was created during four short years before his untimely death in 1974. His work brought him great joy, Karoo’s sister, Eeteemunga remembered “seeing him working on huge pieces. He was always so full of joy as he worked away on a new piece. He was also so proud of himself. He would pause and study a piece that he was working on... thinking or meditating. Sometimes he would put it aside...and glance at it from a distance... When he finished he would be pouring with sweat and looking joyful and exuberant!”

Like many of Karoo’s works there is a not so hidden narrative behind his carving. This work shows two opposing faces, the first with a joyous expression and a prominent toothy grin, the second clearly expressing distress conveyed humorously as the top tooth is pulled out by a piece of thread (traditional sinew has been used here). Exhibiting many characteristics that indicate his most developed and mature artistic phase, this work is dated circa 1973/74.


Acquired directly from the artist by a gallery owner, Yellowknife,
By descent to present owner, British Columbia