One Hundred Masterworks is an extraordinary selection of vintage photographs by Edward S. Curtis, which highlights both iconic and previously little known images, the majority printed in Curtis’ most compelling and rare processes. The prints are among the finest examples that exist and, in some cases, will be the only known example of a particular image. Every style, subject matter, cultural/geographic area, and medium Curtis worked in will be included. The collection from which this exhibition is drawn comprises over 3,000 vintage Curtis photographs and related objects.
The exhibition will showcase prints created in seven different photographic print mediums and will be complemented by objects and other ephemera that will both contextualize and enrich the masterworks. The different print mediums include photogravure, platinum, goldtone, toned and un-toned gelatin silver, cyanotype, and gold-toned printing-out paper prints, and the majority of the photographs will be the rarer, seldom seen, mediums. Aesthetically the prints are of a consistently high level, heretofore unseen in vintage Curtis exhibitions.
Over one hundred years ago, Edward Curtis (born in 1868) set out on a monumental quest to make an unprecedented, comprehensive record of the North American Indian. He produced 40,000-50,000 photographs of Native peoples. The culmination of his project was the creation of his magnum opus, The North American Indian, a twenty-volume, twenty-portfolio set of handmade books. Curtis’ core mission was to safeguard and preserve their ‘sacred legacy’ for future generations by creating a permanent record of their lives in photographs, film, sound, and text. Today this work stands as a landmark in the history of photography, book publishing, ethnography, and the history of the American West. Viewed in its entirety, Curtis’ work presents an historical record of enormous and irreplaceable importance.