Edward Sheriff Curtis (American, 1952)


Born in rural Wisconsin
Built first camera and became an avid, self-taught photographer
Moved to Seattle area, subsistence farmer
Bought half interest in a photography studio
Began winning national and international awards for his photographs of Native Americans and was deeply influenced by the Pictorialist movement
Was official photographer for the Harriman Alaska Expedition
Began his life’s work photographing Native Americans, in earnest
President Theodore Roosevelt became a great champion of Curtis and his work
Armed with a letter of support from Roosevelt, secured initial backing from J.P. Morgan
Curtis and Morgan agree that Curtis will create and publish “the finest set of books ever made in America
The first of twenty volumes and twenty portfolios comprising The North American Indian is published. Each set contains over 2,200 original photographs, 4,000 pages of text, transcriptions of language and music, all printed and bound by hand on hand-made paper. The cost of the project, in 2010 dollars, is approximately $37,000,000
Curtis constantly struggles to raise funds to keep the project going, losing his money, his health, and his family before the completion. He exhibits his work and lectures widely. His Picture Musicale sells out Carnegie Hall. His prints are broadly collected and his sets of rare books sell for the equivalent of a 9,000 sq. ft. mansion. He completes the project in 1930 and is immediately hospitalized for two years
Curtis dies in relative obscurity
An explosion of renewed interest in Curtis and his work. Today he is one of the most widely exhibited, published and collected photographers in history. His work has been the subject of over thirty monographs, one hundred exhibitions internationally, and can be found in major public and private collections worldwide, including The Getty, MOMA, The Met, and those of Oprah Winfrey and George Lucas. A Curtis set of The North American Indian sold at auction for over $1,400,000 and Curtis prints have sold at auction for prices ranging from $110,000-160,000 in 2006, 2007, and 2008


Edward S. Curtis From the Sparks Collection, - Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Colorado Springs, CO
Mingled Visions: Selections from Edward S. Curtis's The North American Indian - Wichita Art Museum WAM, Wichita, KS
Edward S. Curtis: The North American Indian - Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, TX
Edward Curtis: Photogravures from 'The North American Indian' - Picker Art Gallery at Colgate University, Hamilton, NY
Impressões Visuais - CAM - Casa Andrade Muricy, Curitiba