He was called a fantasist by some. His eye was certainly original enough to have qualified him as a visionary of the decorative style, then popularly referred to as “ultra modern”. What he did possess aside from his photographic achievements, was a remarkable sense of the possibilities latent in the combination of new textures and styles of, say, glass and chromium with eighteenth century West African bronzes and wooden sculpture, of cork surfaces and walls with Chinese ivory and wooden figurines, of dull metals and indirect lighting with ancient Egyptian jewellery and artefacts.
As a young man he had chosen painting as his metier but - although he continued to paint throughout his life - it was to photography that he notably devoted himself during the late twenties and even more so in the thirties. Among many other artistic influences, he had developed a social and professional fellowship with Man Ray in the twenties and they often collaborated, exchanging ideas, styles and facilities. Man Ray, when he visited London, used Curtis’ studio to work in, to exchange ideas and develop his prints.
Curtis was a man who took immense pains to achieve the effects he was after, especially in his photographic work, and he also strove constantly to innovate, to experiment with new forms and techniques, both in still-life and portraiture in black-and-white and with the elaborate three-colour gelatine overlay system with which he produced his most striking results.
It is for you to judge his work as photographer and artist. Whatever your view may be, Curtis was a man who would have neither contested or applauded it. He would merely have nodded gently and offered you his warm and slightly enigmatic smile.
Ivan Moffat, November 2000
Each print is numbered and authenticated with a “31 Studio” blind stamp.
A Portfolio, each containing a Platinum Print of “Portrait of Nancy Cunard”. Each portfolio also contains an essay (part of which is quoted below) by Ivan Moffat and a facsimile of Nancy Cunard’s poem written for Curtis Moffat in 1923.
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