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Annie Pootoogook, 'Napachie and Annie Drawing,' which sold for $40,000 ($52,400 with buyer’s premium) at LAMA.

First Nations artist Annie Pootoogook’s illustrations skyrocketed at LAMA

VAN NUYS, CA — Three original illustrations created during the short career of Inuit illustrator Annie Pootoogook (1969-2016) soared well beyond their individual estimates of $1,000-$1,500 at Los Angeles Modern Auctions on April 24 as part of the house’s Art: The LA Edition sale. Complete results are available at LiveAuctioneers.

Pootoogook was only active for a handful of years, but her work was highly influenced by her artist parents and grandmother. She applied her naive style to depictions of everyday Inuit life in Cape Dorset, Nunavut, ranging from shopping or watching television to more traditional First Nations activities. She worked largely with a traditional graphite pencil, pen, and colored pencils to achieve her vision, favoring a small format.

Napachie and Annie Drawing captures the artist and her mother working on illustrations in a bedroom environment with small artworks dotting the walls. Starting at just $50, the 18.125 by 25in work hit a chord with buyers as it escalated rapidly to $8,000 and then hammered for an astounding $40,000 ($52,400 with buyer’s premium).

Two other Pootoogook originals each took $38,000 ($49,780 with buyer’s premium). Composition (Kneeling) shows a young woman on her knees in a room environment, crying and speaking what is possibly Inuit hieroglyphs in a cartoon bubble. A short phrase from Hebrews 11:5 hangs on the wall behind her.

Plucking Beard Hairs portrays a young Inuit man sitting on a pillow before a playing boom box with a small angel hanging on the wall. Like the other two works, it was estimated at just $1,000-$1,500, and its five-figure final price demonstrates that North American collectors continue to have a strong appetite for First Nations and American Indian art.