Edward S. Curtis (born 1868) American Artist
Edward S. Curtis is one of the most important men of the end of the last XIXe century. Because he was aware of global upheavals in the end of his century, he had a clear sensibility of what was around him. Lost people, changing nature, beginning of industrial age were in the middle of his personal questioning. I think he chose camera as the object of memory, not because he has an art predilection, but he was surely a fantastic explorer and a great anthropologist of his time.
He grew up in the middle of the East Side, where he was using his hands for living. So he explains that one day he started to create his own photo camera because it was easier to take photography than to chop for living.
Despite his modest background, he was as well comfortable in the noble circle as in the middle of Indian people. So he went everywhere to take pictures of the ancient people, because it was clear for him that this entire kind was doom to disappear.
The death of every old men or women leads to the extinction of a couple of traditions, of sacred rites, because they were the keepers of the ancestral memory. In this context, the information about way of living of one of the most important ancient people on the world needs to be collect immediately; in order to create something tangible for the next generations, otherwise this chance will be lost forever.
About his portraits, please see the next post.