The type of stone also determines how much work an Inuit art carver must put into a piece. Serpentine is a harder stone than soapstone (see Materials Used in Inuit Sculptures). Therefore, an Inuit art sculpture made of serpentine takes longer to make for the artist and therefore would command a higher price. Regions such as Nunavik (northern Quebec Arctic) where softer soapstone is the main supply usually produce less expensive pieces compared to those coming from other northern Canadian Arctic regions where harder types of stone are the norm. An Inuit artist carving with soapstone could produce more pieces in a given period of time than another using serpentine.
Like with other forms of art, Inuit art pieces created by internationally recognized Inuit artists such as David Ruben Piqtoukun, Oviloo Tunnillie and Kenojuak Ashevak will be priced higher than artwork made by less well known names. As expected, artwork made by top Inuit artists who have passed away will fetch premium prices at fine art auctions since their supply of new works have ceased. This is the reason why many older Inuit art pieces have higher market prices even if they have less detail and are more primitive looking than contemporary pieces. Sometimes old Inuit art sculptures with some minor damage still sold at high prices.
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Inuit art made by living master carvers and artists will also be more expensive than artwork done by younger, new Inuit artists just starting out. In fact, the name of the creator of Inuit art is probably the most important factor overall in determining price.
However, this is certainly not to say that Inuit art made by lesser known artists are inferior artwork. For example, Johnnylee Nooveya of Iqaluit, an up and coming Inuit artist, produces some of the best polar bear and walrus sculptures around.
Location of Inuit Art For Sale
Since there are logistics involved in moving Inuit art from the remote Canadian Arctic region to the major cities in the south, it is obvious that the farther away a gallery is from the north, the more expensive the Inuit art will be. Buying directly from Inuit artists by traveling to their Arctic communities would result in the best prices whereas buying from high end galleries in major cities would result in the highest prices. This is especially the case for galleries located outside of Canada.
The recent introduction of online Inuit galleries can make a difference in Inuit art prices with savings of 20 to even 50 percent, especially with galleries that are exclusively online businesses. Exclusively online galleries do not have the same high overhead expenses as street galleries located in prime tourist areas.
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Online auctions such as eBay can be a source of relatively inexpensive Inuit art that may appeal to beginning collectors but one must be very careful since numerous fakes are commonly listed. There tend to be very few large and/or highly detailed Inuit art on eBay. Therefore, as collectors of Inuit art progress towards higher end pieces, they must be prepared to pay higher prices at either street or online galleries.
For Inuit art prints, location of origin is also important in pricing. Prints from the Arctic communities of Cape Dorset and Holman will be priced higher than those from other locations. Annual releases from these well known communities are often sold out even with relatively high prices. Again, the Inuit artist name is a huge price factor. Of course, the more limited an edition of a print is, the higher its price will probably be.
All of the above characteristics in combination would usually determine the final price of an Inuit art piece. It would be wise to take them into consideration especially when acquiring Inuit art as potential investments - see Buying Inuit Art as Investments article.
Inuit artists are producing some stunning Inuit art these days. Imagine displaying such a piece in your home. See Inuit carvings or Inuit art prints at very affordable online prices at Free Spirit Gallery.
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