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Marshall Gallery : Edward S. Curtis : A Legacy of Light


Marshall Gallery presents a special exhibition in partnership with The Bruce Kapson Gallery to showcase an extraordinary collection of the work of photographer Edward S. Curtis.

For the first time, the show unites two never-before-exhibited private collections of two very distinct, yet complimentary Curtis vintage photographic mediums. The works are renowned for their unparalleled brilliance, luminosity, and three-dimensional quality. The exhibition features a group of 16 vintage Goldtones, including 14 from the prestigious Kale Family Collection, representing the world’s foremost assortment of Goldtones available for acquisition. Among these is a newly discovered and previously unknown 1914 gold tone print of Curtis together with his family on an outing during his filming of In The Land Of The Head Hunters on Vancouver Island. The extraordinary rarity of this piece elevates it to the most significant Goldtone ever to appear on the market. The print is re-produced in the recently published and extensive monograph, “Edward S. Curtis, Printing the Legends: Looking at Shadows in a West Lit Only by Fire” (2024) by Dr. Larry Len Peterson.

Complimenting this exceptional Goldtone collection are 10 exquisite, original Copper Photogravure Printing Plates from gallerist Bruce Kapson’s private collection. Each plate is a unique work and a primary document of one of the most significant publishing ventures of the 20th century, Curtis’s magnum opus The North American Indian. They are the source of origin for every vintage Curtis photogravure print extant. The light reflecting off the engraved copper plates adds a three-dimensional quality to the images, presented in their original copper-and-inked state. All are iconic, are in pristine condition and are among the very last of such Copper Plates remaining outside of institutional or private collections.


Edward Sheriff Curtis (b.1868, d.1952) ranks among the most important photographers of the 20th century and is a pinnacle figure in photography representing the American West. His oeuvre is distinguished as an incredible artistic creation as well as an important historical document of indigenous peoples and their diverse cultures. For three-plus decades beginning in 1898 and ending in 1930, Curtis produced images of over 80 tribes from the deserts of Southern California to the Arctic, that not only record traditional lifeways but also convey a dignity, universal humanity, and majesty that eclipse all other work made portraying Native Americans of the period.

He was the first photographer to involve Native Americans as active participants and contributing collaborators in the making of their image, dedicating his life to the preservation of their cultural traditions and languages. Utilizing his talent and knowledge of artistic developments in the photographic medium, Curtis depicted Indigenous Americans with a mastery of pictorial style and technique rivaled only by the most elegant prints of Edward Steichen and Alfred Stieglitz. In his photographs, we see images that are unique within and indeed transcend the world of photography.

Reception and conversation on the legacy of Curtis’ work between Douglas Marshall, Bruce Kapson, and collector Dan Solomon to be held on May 11th.


Edward S. Curtis : A Legacy of Light
May 4 – June 15, 2024
Marshall Gallery
at Bergamot Station Arts Center
2525 Michigan Ave. #A6
Santa Monica, CA 90404

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