YOUSUF KARSH (1908-2002)

Click To View Biography
JACQUES COUSTEAU, 1972 by YOUSUF KARSH (1908-2002) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

JACQUES COUSTEAU, 1972

CLICK TO VIEW

P.O.A

MOTHER THERESA, 1988 by YOUSUF KARSH (1908-2002) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

MOTHER THERESA, 1988

CLICK TO VIEW

P.O.A

GRACE KELLY, 1956 by YOUSUF KARSH (1908-2002) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

GRACE KELLY, 1956

CLICK TO VIEW

P.O.A

HENRY MOORE, 1972 by YOUSUF KARSH (1908-2002) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

HENRY MOORE, 1972

CLICK TO VIEW

P.O.A

JOAN MIRO, 1965 by YOUSUF KARSH (1908-2002) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

JOAN MIRO, 1965

CLICK TO VIEW

P.O.A

MARTIN LUTHER KING, 1960 by YOUSUF KARSH (1908-2002) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

MARTIN LUTHER KING, 1960

CLICK TO VIEW

P.O.A

JOHN F. KENNEDY, 1960 by YOUSUF KARSH (1908-2002) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

JOHN F. KENNEDY, 1960

CLICK TO VIEW

P.O.A

AUDREY HEPBURN, 1956 by YOUSUF KARSH (1908-2002) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

AUDREY HEPBURN, 1956

CLICK TO VIEW

P.O.A

AUDREY HEPBURN, 1956 by YOUSUF KARSH (1908-2002) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

AUDREY HEPBURN, 1956

CLICK TO VIEW

P.O.A

AUDREY HEPBURN, 1956 by YOUSUF KARSH (1908-2002) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

AUDREY HEPBURN, 1956

CLICK TO VIEW

P.O.A

ERNEST HEMINGWAY, 1957 by YOUSUF KARSH (1908-2002) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

ERNEST HEMINGWAY, 1957

CLICK TO VIEW

P.O.A

W.H. AUDEN, 1972 by YOUSUF KARSH (1908-2002) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

W.H. AUDEN, 1972

CLICK TO VIEW

P.O.A

ALBERTO GIACOMETTI by YOUSUF KARSH (1908-2002) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

ALBERTO GIACOMETTI

CLICK TO VIEW

P.O.A

FIDEL CASTRO, 1971 by YOUSUF KARSH (1908-2002) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

FIDEL CASTRO, 1971

CLICK TO VIEW

P.O.A

GEORGIA O'KEEFFE, 1956 by YOUSUF KARSH (1908-2002) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

GEORGIA O'KEEFFE, 1956

CLICK TO VIEW

P.O.A

PABLO PICASSO, 1954 by YOUSUF KARSH (1908-2002) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

PABLO PICASSO, 1954

CLICK TO VIEW

P.O.A

QUEEN ELIZABETH II, 1951 by YOUSUF KARSH (1908-2002) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

QUEEN ELIZABETH II, 1951

CLICK TO VIEW

P.O.A

JEAN SIBELIUS, 1949 by YOUSUF KARSH (1908-2002) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

JEAN SIBELIUS, 1949

CLICK TO VIEW

P.O.A

MARTHA GRAHAM, 1948 by YOUSUF KARSH (1908-2002) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

MARTHA GRAHAM, 1948

CLICK TO VIEW

P.O.A

HUMPHREY BOGART, 1946 by YOUSUF KARSH (1908-2002) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

HUMPHREY BOGART, 1946

CLICK TO VIEW

P.O.A

Born on 23 December 1908 in Mardin, Turkey, Yousuf Karsh became one of the most significant portrait photographers of the twentieth century. After the Armenian Genocide, which began in 1915. After his sister died from starvation, his parents decided to move him to Quebec, Canada, in 1924 to stay with his uncle, George Nakash, who worked as a photographer. By assisting his uncle during his free-time from school, Karsh developed his own taste for photography also gaining experience as an apprentice with portrait photographer, John Garo.

In 1932, Karsh set up his own photographic studio in Ottawa not far from the Canadian Government base. This location proved a significant advantage as it was conveniently close for any official portraits that were required. Indeed, the Prime Minister himself soon commissioned Karsh to take portraits of dignitaries that visited Canada, one of whom was Winston Churchill. Churchill had been visiting the Canadian government to make a speech on 30 December 1941, after visiting Washington. Karsh achieved Churchill's solemn expression by quickly stealing away his newly lit cigar. The resulting, thunderous face was subsequently interpreted as British fortitude in the face of the Nazi threat in Europe. This portrait remains one of Karsh's most significant, and brought him international prominence. It was also the first Karsh portrait to possess the iconic copyright "Karsh of Ottawa", and is one of the most reproduced portraits in the history of photography.

Karsh was a master of studio lighting. Throughout most of his career he used an 8x10 bellows Calumet camera. He has a gift for capturing the personalities of his sitters, and he stated in 1967: Within every man and woman a secret is hidden, and as a photographer it is my task to reveal it if I can. The revelation, if it comes at all, will come in a small fraction of a second with an unconscious gesture, a gleam of the eye, a brief lifting of the mask that all humans wear to conceal their innermost selves from the world. In that fleeting interval of opportunity the photographer must act or lose his prize.

Karsh visited in London in 1943, and it was here that he began to use thorough research in preparation for a portrait; he called it doing his homework . As he grew in renown, Karsh's singular style particularly the use of dramatic lighting made him irresistible to a vast number of the twentieth century's famous faces, including Ernest Hemingway, Audrey Hepburn, Pablo Picasso, Grace Kelly and Fidel Castro.

Karsh's works are held in galleries and leading museums all over the world, and he published over fifteen books of his iconic photographs. During his career, Karsh received numerous awards, including the Medal of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts (1975) and the Companion of the Order of Canada (1990), as well as obtaining over 24 honorary degrees.

Yousuf Karsh closed his Ottawa studio in June of 1992. He moved to Boston in the late 1990s, where he died, aged 93, on 13 July in 2002 following complications after surgery.

Related Links

Enter your email to be the first to hear about
exhibitions, events and the latest acquisitions