Indigenous art. Indigenous perspectives.

Greenland Art History Timeline


From Issue No. 0, Spring 2013: 52–53

  • 2500-1000 BCE: Independence I people from Canada settle in north Greenland
  • 2500-800 BCE: Saqqaq people from Siberia settle in southeast and west Greenland
  • 700-80 BCE: Independence II people (Early Dorset) settle in north and northeast, near Independence Fjord
  • 500 BCE–1500 CE: Tuniit or Dorset culture from Canada settle in northwest
  • 982: Eric the Red, a Norseman banished from Iceland for murder, arrives in Greenland
  • 986: Eric founds Norse colonies in southern Greenland
  • 1200: Thule Inuit from Canada settle throughout Greenland
  • 1261: Norse Parliament in Greenland votes for rule by Norwegian king
  • 1408: A marriage in Hvalsey Church is the last written record of the Norse colonists in Greenland
  • 1500: All Norse settlements in Greenland are abandoned
  • 1700: Copper Inuit from Canada settle in the Thule region
  • 1721: Danes begin colonizing Greenland
  • 1789–1790: Mathias Fersløv Dalager (Kalaaleq, ca. 1769–1843) born in Ritenbenk, studies at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, becoming the first Greenlandic Inuit to receive a formal Western art education
  • 1840s: Israil Nichodimus Gormansen (Kalaaleq, 1804–1857) paints scenes of daily life with India ink and watercolors
  • 1818–9: Hans Zakæus (Kalaaleq, 1795–1819) accompanies the John Ross expedition to northern Greenland and documents first European contact with the Inughuit Inuit through lithographic prints.
  • 1850: Kalaaleq hunter Aron of Kangeq (1822–1869), bedridden with tuberculosis, begins painting watercolors that document daily life and oral history
  • 1860: Survey of Greenlandic printmaking, Kaladlit Ássilialiait (Greenlandic Woodcuts) is published, featuring works by Rasmus Berthelsen, Aron of Kangeq, Jens Kreutzmann, and others
  • 1857: Rasmus Berthelsen (1827–1901) illustrates Pok, the first book published in Greenland, with woodblock prints
  • 1861: Atuagagdliutit, the first Greenlandic Inuit newspaper founded, with Berthelsen as editor and Lars Møller (Danish–Inuit, 1842–1926) as illustrator and assistant
  • 1891-92: Robert Peary explores north Greenland
  • 1895–1905: Isak of Igdlorpait (Kalaaleq) paints watercolors, which will ultimately be published in 1969
  • 1897: Explorer Robert Peary takes six Inughuit Inuit to New York, to be exhibited as living specimens at the American Museum of Natural History. All die from disease except for Minik Wallace.
  • Late 19th c.: Greenlandic women begin weaving beaded collars
  • 1905: Mitsivarniannga of Ammassalik (Tunumiit), an angakoq (shaman), carves a wooden tupilait with no apparent ill effects, convincing others to also carve tupilaq, effigy figures designed to bring doom
  • 1924: Denmark claims Greenland
  • 1925–29: Sculptors in Kangaamiut begin carving soapstone and sperm-whale ivory figures
  • 1925: Jakob Danielsen (Kalaaleq) paints hunting scenes in Qeqertarsuaq
  • 1940: Nazi Germany begin occupation of Greenland in World War II
  • 1941: United States troops occupy Greenland to thwart the Nazis
  • 1951-3: Denmark removes the Inughuit Inuit residents of Pituffik village to make way for the United States’ Thule Air Base
  • 1953: Greenland gains representation in Danish parliament
  • 1972: Graphic workshop, focused on lithography, woodcutting, and etching, is established in Nuuk and becomes the School of Art in 1981
  • 1975: Tuukaq Theater becomes a space for acting and dance and spearheads
    the revival of Uaajeerneq, the masked dance of East Greenland
  • 1977: The Inuit Circumpolar Council is established with Indigenous representatives from Canada, Greenland, Russia, and the United States
  • 1979: Greenland gains home rule. Denmark controls foreign affairs and defense
  • 1982: National Museum in Denmark repatriates thousands of artworks to the Home Rule authorities in Greenland, including 204 watercolors by Aron of Kangeq and Jens Kreutzmann
  • 1984–5: Greenland votes to leave the European Union to try to halt unsustainable overfishing by German companies sanctioned by the European Union
  • 1985: Greenlandic flag, designed by Thue Christiansen, is adopted
  • 1987: Nordic Institute in Greenland (NAPA) opens
  • 1993: Aka Høegh, with 18 Scandinavian artists, creates the Stone and Man sculpture garden in Qaqortoq—becoming the first large-scale international public art project in Greenland
  • 1993–7: The Flying Kayak, a major survey of contemporary Greenlandic art, travels through Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Poland, Spain, and Greenland
  • 1994: Nuuk Snow Festival (Nuuk Snefestival) is established, showcasing ephemeral sculpture in snow
  • 1995: KIMIK, the Association of Artists in Greenland, is founded
  • 1997: Katuaq Culture Center opens in Nuuk
  • 1999: Ice sheets in lower elevations begin melting at a rate of three feet per year
  • 2004: Jørgen Chemnitz opens Nimitz Gallery, a commercial gallery in Nuuk
  • 2004: Science reports the acceleration of the melting Greenland’s ice sheet
  • 2005: Nuuk Art Museum opens
  • 2005-6: The Red Snow Mobile, with 13 artists, shows in Copenhagen and Nuuk
  • 2006: Rethinking Nordic Colonialism: A Postcolonial Exhibition Project in Five Acts shows at the Greenland National Museum and Archives
  • 2007–8: International Polar Year conference, sponsored by the Greenland Nation Museum and Archive, discusses repatriation of cultural patrimony
  • 2007: Anersaarta Movement marches in the capital of Nuuk
  • 2008: Greenland votes for Self Rule and gains more control over their energy resources. Kalaallisut becomes the official language, replacing Danish
  • 2008: Taseralik Cultural Center is founded in Sisimiut
  • 2009: Expanded self rule is implemented, and Greenland gained the right to negotiate foreign policy
  • 2010: Kuuk, a 14–artist exhibit curated by Julie Edel Hardenberg and Iben Mondrup and hosted by NAPA at Katuaq, explores Greenlandic identity
  • 2010: Science reports increases in acceleration of ice melt and rising sea levels
  • 2012: Air Greenland begins commercial fights from Nuuk to Iqualiut, Nunavut
  • 2012: Possible Greenland, an exhibit of Greenlandic and Danish artists and architects, is featured in the Danish Pavilion at Venice Biennale

–America Meredith, in consultation with David Winfield Norman


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