Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Edward Curtis Documenter of Native Americans

This classic Curtis image was made in the heart of the Bad Lands of South Dakota. The subject is the sub-chief Red Hawk who was born 1854 and participated in his first war party in 1865 with Crazy Horse against U.S. army troops. He was a fierce warrior and ultimately engaged in 20 battles, including the Custer fight in 1876. This lyrical image is widely considered to be Curtis’ most important and beautiful Great Plains peopled landscape. The compelling composition and subject matter have helped this remain one of Curtis’ most sought after and beautiful images, nearly one hundred years after it was originally made.
My first wife's mother was from Lead, South Dakota. We went for a family reunion one year and at that time drove through the Bad Lands and the reservations. A gaunt and sad place with interesting sand structures and a desolate landscape. Some of these formations are replicated at Hallet Cove, just down the road from where I live. I have always enjoyed looking at the work of Curtis and his contemporaries and was reminded of his work browsing at the library.


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