Shadow Catcher: The Life and Work of Edward S. Curtis

Overview

When the twentieth century was just getting under way, Edward S. Curtis began documenting North Amencan Indian culture in words and photographs. Today, almost one hundred years later, his work still stands as the most extensive and informative collection of its kind. His photographs are more than mere documents, they are works of art revealing subtleties of human expression missing from other history and anthropology records. For thirty years, Curtis devoted himself to compiling The North American Indian, twenty ...
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Overview

When the twentieth century was just getting under way, Edward S. Curtis began documenting North Amencan Indian culture in words and photographs. Today, almost one hundred years later, his work still stands as the most extensive and informative collection of its kind. His photographs are more than mere documents, they are works of art revealing subtleties of human expression missing from other history and anthropology records. For thirty years, Curtis devoted himself to compiling The North American Indian, twenty volumes of text and oversized photogravure plates. This was a largely unprofitable project, and Curtis sacrificed his family life and his health to make lengthy visits to American Indian communities throughout the western United States and Canada. Filled with Curtis's breathtaking photographs, Shadow Catcher traces Curtis's life and work from his boyhood in Wisconsin, through his first photo expedition to Alaska in 1897 and the completion of The North American Indian collection in 1930, to his death in 1952.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Lawlor Addie Across the Prairie engagingly chronicles the life and work of photographer-ethnologist Edward S. Curtis 1868- 1952, perhaps best known for his 20-volume The North American Indian, a collection of photographs and written histories of the tribes he spent more than 30 years studying. According to Lawlor, Curtis sacrificed much for his determination to record a culture he believed to be on the brink of extinction. The lively text focuses on his struggles, from his beginnings as a studio photographer in 1890s Seattle to his neverending quest for financial support from the likes of Teddy Roosevelt and J.P. Morgan, to his patience in winning the trust of the people he sought to memorialize. Although openly admiring, Lawlor does not shy away from more problematic aspects of Curtis's career-she acknowledges that he staged events for the camera and posed his subjects, and that his obsession with his mission impoverished and eventually unraveled his family. The exquisitely designed book printed in sepia on cream paper contains scores of Curtis's haunting photographs, as well as portraits of Curtis and his family. Ages 10-up. Dec.
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
A beautiful volume for older readers and adults who will spend hours examining the magnificent sepia photographs taken by the man who faithfully devoted himself for thirty years to fastidiously compiling a photographic record of vanishing cultures.
School Library Journal
Gr 8-10Lawlor illuminates the life of the man driven to complete the monumental project of documenting in photographs, words, and sound recordings the Indian cultures of North America it took him 30 years. At the same time, she portrays the compelling plight of Native Americans in the early part of the 20th century. The reproductions of the sepia-tinted portraits and landscapes of the ``Shadow Catcher,'' the sobriquet applied to the man by the peoples he photographed, are outstanding. The combination of history and artistry will enlarge the audience for this title. More than a reference and more than a biography of Curtis, this carefully researched, highly readable book emphasizes the photographer's perseverance and quest for quality and can serve as a model for young people.Nancy E. Curran, Decatur Public Schools, IL
Susan DeRonne
The childhood of Edward S. Curtis was one of extreme poverty, very little formal schooling, and much family responsibility. His life's love--photography--started as a hobby he could ill afford, became the livelihood for the extended Curtis family, and eventually drove him to complete a financially disastrous, 30-year project entitled "The North American Indian". This 20-volume work, backed initially by financier J. P. Morgan, led Curtis all over the continent in search of Native American faces, customs, and traditions. Curtis' vision and persistence in the face of repeated physical, emotional, and financial disappointment are the focus of this readable biography. The handsome book, printed on fine, sepia-toned paper, is well worth having if only for the 75 photographs, almost all of which are reproductions from his great, now rare, work. The reader will get a feel for the life and dedication of this artist as well as the sacrifices that he made. Bibliography.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802782885
  • Publisher: Walker & Company
  • Publication date: 12/1/1994
  • Pages: 130
  • Age range: 12 - 14 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.25 (w) x 10.34 (h) x 0.64 (d)

Meet the Author


Laurie Lawlor has published more than thirty-four books for children, young adults, and adults, including Helen Keller: Rebellious Spirit, an American Library Association Notable Children’s Book, and a memoir based on natural history, This Tender Place: Story of a Wetland Year.
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