Joe Black Fox, Sioux Indian


In 1898 New York photographer Gertrude Käsebier (1852-1934) embarked on a deeply personal project, creating a set of prints that rank among the most compelling of her celebrated body of work. Käsebier was on the threshold of a career that would establish her as both the leading portraitist of her time and an extraordinary art photographer. Her new undertaking was inspired by viewing the grand parade of Buffalo Bill's Wild West troupe en route to Madison Square Garden for several weeks of performances.

Käsebier had spent her childhood on the Great Plains, and retained many vivid, happy memories of playing with nearby Native American children. She quickly sent a letter to William "Buffalo Bill" Cody (1846-1917), requesting permission to photograph in her studio the Sioux Indians traveling with the show. Within weeks, Käsebier began a unique and special project photographing the Indian men, women, and children formally and informally. Friendships developed, and her photography of these Native Americans continued for more than a decade.

In his photographs, Joe Black Fox seems quite at ease with Käsebier and being in front of a camera. Black Fox almost smiles for the portraits. This is generally uncharacteristic for Native Americans. In 1898 many still believed in the power of the lens to steal their soul. Black Fox poses first in his feather headdress and then playfully, with cigarette in hand, relaxed and wrapped in a blanket. He wears a patterned silken scarf with a pin and earrings, and a beaded, lizard-shaped ornament in his hair.

Date Made: ca 1898

Maker: Kasebier, Gertrude

Location: Currently not on view

Subject: Native Americans


See more items in: Work and Industry: Photographic History, Gertrude Kasebier, Photography


Exhibition Location:

Related Publication: Delaney, Michelle. Buffalo Bill's Wild West Warriors: A Photographic History by Gertrude Kasebier

Credit Line: Mina Turner

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: PG.69.236.021Accession Number: 287543Catalog Number: 69.236.021

Object Name: platinum print

Physical Description: platinum print (overall production method/technique)paper (overall material)Measurements: overall: 20.2 cm x 15.1 cm; 7 15/16 in x 5 15/16 in


Record Id: nmah_1005377

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