Karsh Signature

Yousuf Karsh, master photographer of the 20th century

The Most Famous People in the World: Karsh 100

Speed Art Museum, Louisville, KY, 2010

'Yousuf Karsh is known internationally for his ability to capture the true humanity of an individual in his portraits. Appropriately titled “The Most Famous People in the World,” Karsh 100 is an exhibition of many of the most well known personalities of the past century. Represented are luminaries in the fields of art, music, science, theater, politics, and film, including Ernest Hemmingway, Audrey Hepburn, Pablo Picasso, Mother Teresa, Jacqueline Kennedy, Queen Elizabeth II, and many others. Also featured will be the iconic portrait of Winston Churchill that propelled Karsh to international notoriety as a photographer in 1941.

Marked by his own life’s history as much as the history he documented of others, the story of Yousuf Karsh is the epitome of what is thought to be the American dream. Karsh was born in Armenia in 1908 where he lived as a refugee in a world of civil unrest. At the age of seventeen he embarked on the 28 day journey to live with an uncle in Canada with no money and little schooling. It was in Canada where Karsh first learned the photographic skills that would eventually launch his career as one of the most revered photographers of all time. He later settled in the United States.

His ability to see the individual in his subject was a remarkability that placed Karsh apart from other portrait photographers. Karsh explained his intentions with great eloquence when he said that, “My desire was to photograph the great in spirit, whether they be famous or humble.” To exhibit many of his most famous images to the public is a true honor for The Speed Art Museum.'

Dr. Charles L. Venable
Director and CEO
The Speed Art Museum