Published: November 17, 2020
ALEXANDRIA, VA. – The Potomack Company recently attracted the highest price ever achieved for a work by Canadian Inuit artist Kiugak (Kiawak) Ashoona (1933-2014). His “Howling Spirit (Tornrak) and Its Young,” circa 1962, brought $139,700 with buyer’s premium, soaring past the previous record, $35,000, for Ashoona’s work.
The green serpentine stone piece had belonged to Arthur Houghton Jr, one-time president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Steuben Glass Works. He was given the sculpture as a Christmas gift by James Houston, a Canadian author who played a role in introducing Inuit art to the world. It came to Potomack through the estate of Houghton’s wife Nina, who died earlier this year. Arthur Houghton Jr died in 1990. “Howling Spirit” is important not only because of the artist and its provenance but because it toured the world as part of an exhibition of the Canadian Eskimo Arts Council and appeared on the cover of the catalog titled Sculpture/Inuit: Masterworks of the Canadian Arctic (1971). It was also featured in a catalog for an exhibition of Ashoona’s work by the Winnipeg Art Gallery in 2010.
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