Karsh Signature

Yousuf Karsh, master photographer of the 20th century

LIFE Magazine and the Power of Photography

Winston Churchill, 1941 by Yousuf Karsh; LIFE cover from 1945 courtesy of the publisher

The exhibition “LIFE Magazine and the Power of Photography” opens this week at Princeton University Art Museum. Karsh photographs featured on more than 20 LIFE covers during his lifetime, spanning four decades.

From the Great Depression to the Vietnam War, the vast majority of the photographs printed and consumed in the United States appeared on the pages of illustrated magazines. Offering an in-depth look at the photography featured in LIFE magazine throughout its weekly run from 1936 to 1972, this exhibition examines how the magazine’s use of images fundamentally shaped the modern idea of photography in the United States. The work of photographers such as Karsh is explored in the context of the creative and editorial structures at LIFE. Drawing on unprecedented access to the magazine’s picture and paper archives, as well as photographers’ archives, the exhibition presents an array of materials, including caption files, contact sheets, and shooting scripts, that shed new light on the collaborative process behind many now-iconic images and photo-essays.

On sale this month is the accompanying book, edited by Kristen Gresh, the Estrellita and Yousuf Karsh Senior Curator of Photographs at Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Katherine A. Bussard, the Peter C. Bunnell Curator of Photography at Princeton University Art Museum.

The exhibition opens on February 22, 2020, and runs until June 21, 2020.