Forty original photogravure prints by noted photographer and naturalist Edward S. Curtis from the collection of the Dubuque Museum of Art in Dubuque, Iowa will be on view at the Charles H. MacNider Art Museum from Friday, August 19 ñ Saturday, October 29, 2011. This selection of photogravures presents an overview of Curtis’s The North American Indian collection with a popular mix of famous images like “Geronimo” and “CaÒon de Chelly ñ Navaho” and less well-known images like “Bear Bull ñ Blackfoot” and “Wichita Grass-House”.
Edward S. Curtis was fortunate in 1906 to gain recognition and endorsement from President Theodore Roosevelt and financial backing from J.P. Morgan for a project he had been considering for over six years. Curtis approached railroad tycoon Morgan and together they decided Curtis’s masterwork, The North American Indian, would be a five-year project producing 20 volumes of ethnographic text illustrated with high-quality photoengravings and each volume would be accompanied by a folio of large photogravure images. In the end, the 20 folios included 722 photogravures but the project took 30 years to complete.
Curtis published Volume 1 in 1907. Although Curtis had hoped to print a limited edition of 500 copies, he was only able to find 222 subscribers for The North American Indian and only 272 sets were ever printed. Mainly due to lack of funds and the constant need for marketing his work, Curtis did not issue his final volume and portfolio set until 1930, almost 20 years after his projected completion date. Thus, his lifework, The North American Indian, which neither fit neatly into the classification of art nor science, virtually faded into obscurity, until it was “rediscovered” in the 1970s and became recognized as one of the most significant records of Native culture ever produced.
Dubuque’s copy of The North American Indian was given to the local Carnegie-Stout Public Library in 1909 by Mrs. Emma H. Ward in memory of her husband, Hiram Pond Ward, a prominent Dubuque lawyer. The complete collection remained at the Library until 1999 when the photogravure portion was moved to the Dubuque Museum of Art for safekeeping. The complete collection (texts and photogravures) was purchased by the Dubuque Cultural Preservation Committee (DCPC) in 2008 to keep it from leaving the city. In 2009, DCPC gifted the collection to the Museum.
This traveling exhibition is organized by the Dubuque Museum of Art, Dubuque, Iowa. The photogravures in the exhibition are from the permanent collection of the Dubuque Museum of Art and are a gift from the Dubuque Cultural Preservation Committee, an Iowa general partnership, consisting of Dr. Darryl K. Mozena, Jeffrey P. Mozena, Mark Falb, Timothy J. Conlon, and Dr. Randy Lengeling.
“Mingled Visions: Selections from Edward S. Curtis’s The North American Indian” is sponsored in part by the John K. and Luise V. Hanson Foundation.
Please join the Charles H. MacNider Art Museum on Friday, August 26 from 5 ñ 7 pm for MacNider: Off the Clock. Enjoy food, wine, and live music while viewing this wonderful exhibition. |