Sunday, January 03, 2010

Charles Fletcher Lummis

I walked over to the Albuquerque Museum this morning for a second look at a currently featured exhibit: Time Exposure; Picturing a History of the Isleta Pueblo in the 19th Century.

The show's highlight for me was an introduction to the work of C.F. Lummis, a journalist and editor, as well as a very accomplished early photographer of the Southwest. His prints do not have the technical sophistication of those from contemporaries like Vroman and Curtis, but they display great intimacy and authenticity due to the fact that Lummis lived for several years in the Isleta Pueblo, and the people portrayed were his friends. Lummis learned Spanish and Tiwa in the Pueblo, and he became a champion of Native American rights.

Most of the Lummis pictures in the exhibit are big enlargements from the original prints, most of which were blue-toned cyanotypes. Two exquisite original cyanotype contact prints were only visible under a glass case which contained an album he had assembled from his work in the late 1880s at Isleta.

Finding examples of Lummis' work on line is a challenge. They don't show up in search engine results because they are mostly contained within museum and library collections which can only be accessed through quirky institutional interfaces. The largest number of Lummis prints appear to be at the Autry National Center of the American West in Los Angeles. Below is a small selection of Lummis prints accessed through the site's "Research" tab.

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