CHRISTOPHER CARDOZO FINE ART
Dedicated to the Legacy and Preservation of Edward Curtis
Obituary – February 27, 1948 – February 21, 2021
Christopher Cardozo : Foremost Authority on American IndianEthnographer and Photographer Edward S. Curtis, died on February 21, 2021, in Minneapolis at age 72
After graduating with a degree in photography and film from the University of Minnesota, a professor invited him to Oaxaca, Mexico to help make a film. After taking five months to save up to buy a 10–year-old VW Beetle, camera lenses and film, Cardozo made the trek across the continent, finally arriving only to be informed that his professor had decided not to make the film. The curt apology was, “ I should have written.”
Notwithstanding, Cardozo stayed on in the remote Mexican village of San Andres Chicahuzxla, Oaxaca, Mexico. He spent six sometimes dangerous months in 1972 documenting a place and people who were losing their way. “ Chris’ sepia-toned images of the villagers prompted a friend to observe that his photos were remarkably similar to Edward Curtis’ work. His curiosity peaked, Cardozo furiously studied, acquired, exhibited and replicated Curtis’ work making for a career spanning more than fifty years. He thus became the foremost authority on Curtis. Cardozo came to realize “I was led to this. This was my soul’s purpose. Why I ended up on Earth at this particular time was to make this work available to people.”
Having driven himself to the limit, Curtis lost everything, suffering a physical and nervous breakdown in 1930. He died in 1952 essentially unknown and penniless.
Cardozo is the author of nine monographs on Edward Curtis and has created and curated one-person Curtis exhibitions that have been seen in nearly one hundred venues in over forty countries, and on every continent, but Antarctica. Having collected Curtis’s artwork for decades, Cardozo created the world’s largest and most broad-ranging Curtis collection. His personal collection has been exhibited in major museums internationally and was the subject of his widely heralded monograph on Curtis: Sacred Legacy; Edward S. Curtis and The North American Indian, and a new monograph on his personal collection titled Edward S. Curtis: One Hundred Masterworks, in which Cardozo said “ Curtis’ work changed the way our nation viewed Native Americans and generated a broad-ranging dialogue for greater compassion, understanding, and inclusion. For more than a century, his images have moved and inspired diverse audiences, transcending economic, cultural, social, educational, and national boundaries. He accomplished this at a time when Native Americans were commonly viewed with disdain or hatred and some individuals were still actively advocating for the extinction of all Native peoples on the North American continent. Contributing to that work was Minnesota writer Louise Erdrich who wrote that Curtis’ images of women were “ as disquieting as they are profoundly beautiful.”
With the few remaining 160 sets of Curtis “The North American Indian” financially and physically out of reach of new generations of scholars and students, Cardozo undertook the three–year painstaking task of artisan republication of the 20-volume work and accompanying portfolios, so as to coincide with the 2018 sesquicentennial of Curtis’ birth.
With the republication accomplished, Cardozo, long bothered by the fact that he was a white man owning so much of Native America’s legacy, launched the “10,000 Print Repatriation Project” to connect the descendants of those photographed with their ancestors’ images.
As the founder of Cardozo Fine Art, he has pioneered techniques for preserving and revitalizing historic photographs, as well as developing cutting-edge techniques for contemporary photography. He was also the founder and board chair of the Edward S. Curtis Foundation, dedicated to preserving and exhibiting the work of Edward Curtis. No one has done more to increase the awareness, understanding, and appreciation for Curtis’ work than Cardozo. Friends and family are committed to continuing his work.
Upon reaching the age of 70, he wanted to return full circle to his own photography which launched this incredible journey.
Christopher Cardozo is survived by his beloved Mother Patricia, Sisters Julie, and Claudia, Brother Jeffrey, his Niece Brittany Lease (Lewis) and their children Alden, Ben and Milo. Chris also has ten Goddaughters and Godsons with whom he shared many years of companionship and mentoring. His network of friends, scholars and artistic colleagues knew him as a man with a lovely zest for life lived with no estimated time of arrival……..
Christopher Cardozo is widely acknowledged as the world’s leading authority on Edward S. Curtis. Cardozo is the author of nine monographs on Edward Curtis and has created and curated one-person Curtis exhibitions that have been seen in nearly one hundred venues, in over forty countries, and every continent but Antarctica. Having collected Curtis’ artwork for four decades, Cardozo has created the worlds’ largest and most broad-ranging Curtis collection. No one has done more to increase the awareness, understanding, and appreciation for Curtis’ work than Cardozo, but Edward Curtis himself.
Cardozo discovered the work of Edward Curtis in 1973 after a friend saw Cardozo’s own sepia-toned photographs of indigenous people. Cardozo, who holds a BFA (Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude) in photography and film, is a widely exhibited photographer whose personal work is in many public and private collections, including the permanent collection at The Museum of Modern Art in New York. Cardozo, who also holds a Juris Doctor degree, has also lectured on the financial and legal aspects of owning works of art. He has lectured internationally on Curtis. His personal collection has been exhibited in major museums internationally and was the subject of the widely heralded monograph on Curtis: Sacred Legacy; Edward S. Curtis and The North American Indian and a new monograph on his personal collection titled Edward S. Curtis: One Hundred Masterworks.