Karsh Signature

Yousuf Karsh, master photographer of the 20th century

“Ottawa Art & Artists”

Lysle Courtenay, 1933

Our friends at Art Canada Institute have published a new book, Ottawa Art & Artists: An Illustrated History, by Jim Burant.

“Most Canadians know Ottawa as their national capital: a place politicians gather to debate the country’s governance and finances. But Ottawa is much more than this. Politicians may come and go, but the living, breathing city remains, filled with people who are proud to call it home and a long, vibrant artistic scene. This book will explore and celebrate the cultural and artistic legacy of Ottawa, both the city and the region.” (Read it free here.)

Yousuf Karsh is among the “key artists” and this early Karsh portrait, of actor Lysle Courtenay from the Ottawa Little Theater reading his lines, is included. Karsh notes in his biography:

While my career seemed to be well launched, I had few friends in Ottawa during those early months, and I welcomed an invitation to join the Ottawa Little Theatre, an enthusiastic group of amateur players. The casual invitation was to have lasting effects on my life and career. The experience of photographing actors on the stage with stage lighting was exhilarating. The unlimited possibilities of artificial light overwhelmed me. Working with daylight in Garo’s studio one had to wait — often for hours — for the light to be right. In this new situation, instructions about lighting effects were given by the director; he could command the lighting to do what he wished. Moods could be created, selected, modified, intensified. I was thrilled by this means of expression, this method of interpreting life; a new world was opened to me.