Karsh Signature

Yousuf Karsh, master photographer of the 20th century

Karsh 100: A Biography in Images

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2009

'Karsh 100: A Biography in Images' celebrates the 100th anniversary of the birth of the internationally known photographer Yousuf Karsh. Born in Turkish Armenia in 1908, Karsh established his studio in Ottawa, Canada, in 1931 and built an international reputation as portraitist of the world’s leading mid-twentieth century figures - statesmen, scientists, literary figures, artists, musicians, and movie stars. Among the influential men and women who sat for Karsh’s camera were Winston Churchill, Queen Elizabeth II, Pablo Picasso, Georgia O’Keeffe, Albert Einstein, Helen Keller, George Bernhard Shaw, Sophia Loren, Ernest Hemingway, Jessye Norman, and Audrey Hepburn.

This exhibition is intended to present the artist’s less well-known work in the context of his many celebrated portraits. Included will be examples of Karsh’s earliest explorations with the camera made while apprenticing to the Boston photographer John H. Garo in the late 1920s, photographs depicting performances of the Ottawa Little Theatre made in the 1930s, and a small number of that decade’s rare Surrealist-inspired experimental work. The exhibition will also feature an important series of photographs made on assignment, from views of the landscape and people of Canada (made for the popular Canadian magazine, Maclean’s), to images of industry (commissioned in particular by the Ford Motor Company of Canada and Atlas Steel), and work made on assignment for projects such as the publications of well-known Catholic leader Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen (such as 'This is Rome', 1960) and on location with the cast of the Hollywood film 'Zulu' (1963).

The exhibition, comprised of 110 objects, will be drawn primarily from the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Additional loans of photographs and documentary material will be obtained from the photographer’s wife, Estrellita, the Library and Archives of Canada, and the Canada Science and Technology Museum.'

Anne Havinga
Estrellita and Yousuf Karsh Curator of Photographs
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston