From May 24 to November 18, 2012
Edward Curtis - Beyond Measure
Photograph all the First Peoples of North America.
Edward Sheriff Curtis resolved to do this after witnessing the Piikani (Peigan) Nation's annual gathering in 1898. The sight of countless teepees pitched on a Montana plain inspired him to preserve the memory of Aboriginal peoples whose culture would inexorably die out, according to contemporary assumptions about the 'vanishing Indian.'
For 27 years Curtis journeyed throughout Canada and the United States, west of the Mississipi. Indeed he trekked from Alaska to New Mexico and took some 40,000 pictures while noting down the habits and customs of many First Nations and the Inuit groups. This project resulted in a twenty-volume encyclopedia, The North American Indian, which comprised 20 portfolios of photogravures printed on the finest paper.
In keeping with pictorialism Curtis often staged and retouched his photographs so as to articulate an idealized vision of the First Peoples. Although scholars roundly criticize this representation, Curtis's work remains an unparalleled contribution to ethnology.