orotone 
Member since Nov 11, 2010


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Re: “Curtis' uneasy masterpieces

Just how poorly written can one article on Edward Curtis be? I thought "journalists" were supposed to check facts--perhaps when the paper is free the "journalist" isn't paid and therefore shouldn't be called a journalist? I can't hold Milteer to such a standard--although he gets a lot of it wrong as well. I can say that I'm unlikely to lend any of my Curtis photogravures or master-prints to his museum with his understanding of Curtis though I've done so for several other Colorado, Texas, and California museums.
J.P. Morgan did not commission Curtis--although he and his foundation provided nearly half of the cost for the North American Indian (NAI). Edward Curtis was never given a timeline to complete the NAI--he thought he could do it in five more years when he got the fist installment from Morgan, but he'd been working on it for five years before he convinced Morgan to help. As to Curtis failing his "charge" well the NAI was his idea and his project and the only "charge" that he got from Morgan was to make it the highest quality book possible--I do not, nor do many others, believe that he failed in that charge.
Photogravures are not reproduced through etchings--it's too much to go into in this comment, but a simple bit of research with Google would solve that problem. Perhaps the writer is confusing using acid to etch the plate that's used to make the impression with an etching?
There's no real controversy in the Curtis images today--they are what Curtis said they were, an artistic representation of the North American Indian before the white man came. Christopher Lyman wrote a controversial book called "The Vanishing Race and Other Illusions" financed by a grant from the Library of Congress where he is critical of Curtis. It is from this single source that all the manufactured "controversy" comes from and from which poor journalists and plagiarizing college students write their essays. Lyman has, since writing his book, admitted that his conclusion were wrong. Yes, Curtis on one or two images, removed things such as modern clocks and he did loan a shirt to a subject to wear that came from another tribe--he made no attempt to hide this and it's only controversial if you cite Lyman's book. I need not apologize for Curtis, his work speaks for itself--as does the work of this journalist.

Posted by orotone on 11/11/2010 at 1:47 PM

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