AIC Unveils Yousuf Karsh Exhibit

The Art Institute of Chicago will open a major show of Yousuf Karsh’s portraiture on January 22. Yousuf Karsh: Regarding Heroes will run through April 26.

As a teenager the Armenian Karsh fled his native Turkey to live first in Syria and then in Canada with his photographer uncle. Always connected with traditional photographic methods, he honed his skills first as an apprentice in Boston from 1928 to 1931 and then in his own studio in Ottawa from 1932 until 1992. In 1941, his portrait of Winston Churchill immediately earned him an international reputation. The image exemplified “the roaring lion” standing alone against the fascists that had overrun continental Europe. His fame was further enhanced with state commissions of political and military leaders during WWII, and his renown continued to skyrocket after the war and through the early 1960s when he began adding writers, actors, artists, musicians, scientists, statesmen, and celebrities to his portfolio of accomplished individuals.

To mark the centenary of his birth, this retrospective will display Karsh’s best portrait subjects in the prints he himself preferred. The 100 photographs in the exhibition are drawn from a set of over 200 master prints given to the museum as a promised gift by his widow, Estrellita Karsh.

Featured events will take place on January 30 and February 20. I’ve been told that a catalog for the exhibit will soon be available through the Institute’s online store priced at $50. I know I can’t wait to get my copy.

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~ by David Cupp on January 16, 2009.

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