L’attrapeur d’ombres, la vie épique d’Edward S. Curtis
His name is so linked to The North American Indian, his major work, one could easily mistake him for a Comanche, a Crow or a Nez Percé. Actually, Edward S. Curtis (1868-1952) was the perfect prototype of the small white American. He was the son of a veteran from the Civil War, an eternal invalid who had to leave school early on to make his family’s living– hunting, fishing, cultivating the earth. He fell from a tree and hurt his back, so he spent his year of convalescence building a dark room. What followed sounds more like a fairy tale: after mortgaging his piece of land, he became the most sought after photographer in Seattle, and then developed a passion for the Indian America. He became the friend of President Ted Roosevelt, was financed by JP Morgan – the richest man in the world -, and went on to build an unequalled photographic encyclopaedia. But not only: it is literary as well with a lexicon, sound, with recordings on wax rolls) of the “first American Nations”. The book tells the saga by recalling what this long search (1907-1930) will cost him: his marriage, his money and his health. Curtis lived at the end of his life by using his wits, and even invented a machine to select gold or and died almost poor. A complete game of his twenty volumes are worth today two million dollars.
Review published in the newsletter #405 - from 5 November 2015 to 11 November 2015