Edward S. Curtis: One Hundred Masterworks
In 1900, Seattle photographer Edward S. Curtis began a massive project to photograph the Native American people of the United States. Thirty years later, it resulted in a 20-volume, 20 portfolio set of handmade books entitled The North American Indian
—one of the most ambitious publishing projects in American history.
While Curtis has been criticized for romanticizing Native American culture and history, his photographs are increasingly prized for their historic and artistic value. This exhibition features both well known and rare images from Curtis’ oeuvre, including platinum prints, goldtones, cyanotypes and the more common photogravures, drawn from the largest existing collection of his work.
With an approximate cost of $35 million in today’s dollars, the effort involved more than 100 assistants, artisans, salespeople and support staff, and required the collaboration of an estimated 10,000 Native Americans who posed or otherwise assisted the photographer. Curtis produced more than 40,000 photographs, traveling to Alaska, the Southwest and the Great Plains in search of his subjects. The project bankrupted him and ruined his health, and he died in obscurity in 1952, but today his work is considered a masterpiece of photography and a priceless record of Native American culture.
The exhibition One Hundred Masterworks
features both well-known and rare images from Curtis’ project, and are drawn from a private collection formed over the course of 40 years. Many of the pieces were in Curtis’ personal collection, or are from other distinguished collections. The images range from portraits, including notables such as Red Cloud, to traditional scenes and ceremonies. Curtis experimented with many photographic mediums, and the exhibition will include platinum prints, goldtones, cyanotypes and other examples, in addition to photogravures—the medium used for most of the portfolio.This exhibition will be on view October 10, 2015-January 17, 2016Companion Events
October 7, 7 pm - Collector and curator Christopher Cardozo will speak about the exhibitionTours
November 5, 7 pm - Film
November 19, 7 pm - Dr. Jane Simonsen Talk
December 17, 5 pm - PechaKucha Night
Theme: Native American Visual Culture
January 9, 10 am-1 pm - Free Family DaySponsored by The Hunt and Diane Harris Family Foundation
Edward S. Curtis: One Hundred Masterworks has been organized by the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography, Minneapolis/Paris/Lausanne, in collaboration with the Figge Art Museum
image: Edward S. Curtis, Kutenai Duck Hunter, 1910, Photogravure, Courtesy of Christopher Cardozo Fine Art