Art of the Week

2016-Sep-25 Kotsuis and Hohhuq by Edward S. Curtis

2016-Sep-25 Kotsuis and Hohhuq by Edward S. Curtis

Artist: Edward S. Curtis (American, 1868-1952)
Title: Kótsuis and Hóhhuq – Nakoaktok, plate #77
Date: 1914
Accession #: 2009.11.77
Medium: Photogravure on Dutch Van Gelder paper
Dimensions: paper: 17 11/16 x 22 1/16 in., image: 10 5/8 x 15 3/16 in.
Acquired by: Dubuque Cultural Preservation Committee, an Iowa general partnership, consisting of Dr. Darryl K. Mozena, Jeffrey P. Mozena, Mark Falb, Timothy J. Conlon, and Dr. Randy Lengeling
Interesting fact about the Photographer: Controversy soon surfaced when Curtis decided to make a film about the Kwakiutl Tribe in Vancouver called In the Land of the Head-Hunters. For his Continental Film Company, Curtis’ goal was to show the Kwakiutl Tribe’s lifestyle prior to the White Man’s invasion. As a result, he had to manipulate many of his scenes to create a successful film. He made his own Native American masks, totem poles, and costumes for the Native American “actors,” and even had the Kwakiutl people dress in their war attire to recreate different battle scenes. Curtis didn’t stop there. To make sure that the film was aesthetically pleasing on screen, he even manipulated nature to his benefit. He dammed up creeks to obtain better reflections and cut down trees to make more room for different scenes. These decisions made by Curtis, often made people question his motives for this project: Was he in search for more money, fame, and glory? Or, was he really doing this to ensure the Native American legacy? (from: Makepeace, Anne. Edward S. Curtis Coming to Light. Washington D.C.: National Geographic, 2002. Print.)

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