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Paulassie Pootoogook

Paulassie Pootoogook (1927-2006) was a prolific sculptor from Igalalik (Andrew Gordon Bay), NU. His father, Pootoogook (1887-1958), was a community leader and an instrumental figure in the formation of the village of Kinngait (Cape Dorset), NU, which the family later moved to. As the eldest of four brothers, all well-known art makers, Paulassie began his career as a printmaker but is often more recognized for his skill in carving.

While Pootoogook’s later interests in carving turned to non-traditional, Catholic subject matter, he is best recognized for his depictions of polar bears. Sculpting with serpentine, a stone native to the Kinngait area, allowed Pootoogook to show off his mastery of the medium, as the harder surfaces could be rounded and smoothed to achieve a spectacular glossy effect [1]. Free of any bumps or imperfections, his sculpture Bears (1977) depicts a nervous cub clutching its mother’s neck. Tongue hanging out and teeth bared, the mother’s exasperation at her cub’s desperate need for attention adds to the playful quality of the piece.

Pootoogook’s sculptures and prints have been featured in a number of exhibitions across North America and Europe, including the year-long touring show Inuit Art (1981-1982) from the Canadian Museum of History in Ottawa ON. His prints have also been included in the early years of Cape Dorset Annual Print Collections. Pootoogook’s work may be found in national permanent collections, such as the Inuit Cultural Institute in Kangiqliniq (Rankin Inlet), NU, and the Winnipeg Art Gallery in Manitoba.


1. University of Regina, “Paulassie Pootoogook (1927-2006),” Campus Art Guide, http://www2.uregina.ca/president/art/classroom/paulassie-pootoogook/, accessed August 7th, 2019.