Edward S. Curtis: The Great Warriors

Edward S. Curtis, Author, Christopher Cardozo, Author Bulfinch Press $35 (128p) ISBN 978-0-8212-2894-4
Considered by many to be the most ambitious publication ever undertaken by a single man, Edward Curtis's magnum opus The North American Indian (1930) comprised 20 volumes of illustrated text and 20 accompanying portfolios of oversize photographs. It took 25 years and cost more than $30 million in today's dollars to complete. Most of the 100-plus images that Curtis-expert Cardozo culled for this volume were taken from that landmark work, making this book an excellent starting point for those unfamiliar with Curtis's poignant, penetrating photographs of Indian chiefs and warriors. No other photographer of Indian life was able to capture his subjects in such an intimate way. His photographs are dramatic, respectful and stripped of all inhibition. That so many eminencies of the Oglala, Hopi, Zuni, Nez Perce and Apsaroke tribes allowed themselves to be photographed so honestly by a white man is as captivating as the images themselves. An introductory essay by Cardozo describes the influence that Curtis's early training as studio photographer had on his later development of a""coherent aesthetic that put great emphasis on careful lighting; classic, simplified compositions; a warm, sepia tonality; and, frequently, softened focus."" Another essay recounts the man's rise from""abject poverty"" to prize-winning accomplishment. In completing his work, Curtis sacrificed fame, family and fortune and, in 1952, he died penniless and unknown. These excellent oversize reproductions of his work are a tribute to his selfless dedication.
Reviewed on: 05/17/2004
Release date: 05/01/2004
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