James Houston and the Making of Inuit Art

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About the Book

In 1954, eager buyers lined up three abreast for over half a block to get into the Canadian Handicrafts Guild in Montreal where, once inside, they wrestled and argued to purchase stone sculptures carved by Inuit artists. In a short span, Inuit carvings had changed from a special interest to a worldwide phenomenon and a major source of income for the Inuit. Their sculptures, tapestries and prints later became the unofficial national art of Canada, gracing homes, corporate offices, postage stamps and international art showcases.
This is the story of how Inuit art came to be regarded as some of the best Indigenous art of the twentieth century. James Houston, an artist as well as a brilliant raconteur and lecturer, was unquestionably instrumental in its marketing. His enthralling Arctic stories were a gift to journalists, but his inconsistencies became a major hurdle for historians. This book portrays the unusual alliance between James Houston and early Inuit enthusiasts, the Canadian Handicrafts Guild and the Canadian Department of Northern Affairs. Through painstaking research, it presents their adventures, management, concerns and successes in the Inuit art market.

About the Author(s)

The late John Ayre was an award winning writer and wrote numerous articles on Inuit art for the Inuit Art Quarterly. His degree in cultural anthropology, experience as a literary and art journalist, and personal interest in the Arctic and Inuit art were all brought to bear in his writing of this book.

Bibliographic Details

John Ayre

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Bibliographic Info: ca. 35 photos, appendix, bibliography, index.
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8817-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4787-6
Imprint: McFarland