Art Market Watch:
ON ARTNET AUCTIONS
A lithe fisherman in a loincloth stands on a rock above a raging river, a long spear held at the ready. The Sioux warrior Mosquito Hawk poses, wrapped in a Buffalo robe and wearing a stern expression, his battle days over. The Dakota chief Red Hawk, a veteran of Custer's Last Stand in 1876, sits in full costume on his mount at an oasis in the Dakota Badlands.
These are highlights of the special Edward Sheriff Curtis Sale on Artnet Auctions, Mar. 23-31, 2011. The 15 lots include one goldtone print -- luminous and warm-hued – plus one gelatin silver print, seven photogravures, and six platinum prints. Platinum prints make up less than one-half of a percent of all of Curtis photographs.
As Artnet photograph specialist Christopher Sweet points out in his catalogue notes, "In 1900, Edward S. Curtis set out to document the history, spirituality, and culture of all intact Native American tribal groups. Curtis understood the urgency of his mission, as the Native American culture and way of life was rapidly disappearing. Before his project was completed in 1930, Curtis had lost his money, his family, and his health in his single-minded devotion to completing his study which today still stands as a landmark in American publishing history.
"In the end, each set of Curtis' magnum opus, The North American Indian, contained more than 2,200 photographs and over 4,000 pages of written text. The North American Indian cost a staggering $37,000,000 to publish (in today's dollars) and the resulting body of work is unequalled in the history of photography, publishing or ethnography."
The photos in the auction are all from the collection of Christopher Cardozo, a preeminent Curtis expert and collector. Works from his collection seldom come to market, and this provenance fosters confidence in the quality and condition of the prints.
Price estimates on the works range from as low as $1,200 to $90,000 -- many of them 20 percent and more below gallery wholesale prices.
To take a look at the lots, visit Artnet Auctions.