Edward S. Curtis (1868-1952)

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Edward S. Curtis - Plate 001 The Vanishing Race - Navaho border=
Title:
Plate 001 The Vanishing Race - Navaho
Date:
1904
Size:
Portfolio, 18 x 22 inches
Medium:
Vintage Photogravure
 
The Photograph the represents it all: The Vanishing Race

“The thought which this picture is meant to convey is that the Indians as a race, already shorn in their tribal strength and stripped of their primitive dress, are passing into the darkness of an unknown future. Feeling that the picture expresses so much of the thought that inspired the entire work, the author has chosen it as the first of the series.” –Description by Edward S. Curtis
Curtis’s photograph, “The Vanishing Race” does a beautiful job in illustrating the Native American Culture and its people’s disappearance. The photograph is of small group of Indians on horseback receding into a dark and blurred landscape. There are very little details, no discernable faces, and the figures are reduced to anonymous silhouettes. This powerful image seems to convey the impression of an entire race passively fading away.

Curtis uses this stunning image as the very first in his series, “The Native American Indian” and sets the context in which his entire project will done.
President Roosevelt, a big supporter of Edward Curtis, stressed the importance of Curtis’ project. In his foreword, the president praised The North American Indian as a “good thing for the whole American people.” He continued, “The Indian as he has hitherto been is on the point of passing away. His life has been lived under conditions thru which our own race past [sic] so many ages ago that not a vestige of their memory remains.” His statement reinforced the idea behind, “The Vanishing Race” and Curtis’ entire project.
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