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Yousuf Karsh: American Portraits

From February 8, 2019 to May 5, 2019

Location: Spotlight Gallery (Floor 1M)

On loan from the National Portrait Gallery 

Albert Einstein

Andy Warhol

Apollo Crew

Eleanor Roosevelt

Georgia Okeefe

Grace Kelly

Humphrey Bogart

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

Joan Crawford

Martin Luther King Jr

Marx Brothers

Muhammad Ali

Which Karsh subject do you most identity with?

During a career that spanned six decades, photographer Yousuf Karsh (1908–2002) created iconic portraits of many of the twentieth century’s most influential men and women—individuals who distinguished themselves in fields as diverse as business, medicine, entertainment, politics, and the arts.

This exhibition includes 48 iconic portraits, including photographs of Georgia O’Keeffe, Jonas Salk, Marian Anderson, Elizabeth Arden, I.M. Pei, Helen Keller, Andy Warhol, Muhammad Ali, and first ladies Eleanor Roosevelt and Jacqueline Kennedy.

Karsh believed that “the heart and the mind are the true lens of the camera,” and he developed a genuine rapport with his subjects to fashion evocative and revealing portraits.

A refugee from his native Armenia, Karsh immigrated to Canada in 1925. His uncle was a professional photographer who, in 1928, facilitated Karsh’s apprenticeship with the renowned Boston portrait photographer John H. Garo. By the time Karsh returned to Canada in 1931, he had “set [his] heart on photographing those men and women who leave their mark on the world,” and two years later, he opened a portrait studio in Ottawa. The phenomenal success of his 1941 portrait of Winston Churchill, included in this exhibition, launched Karsh’s career. Thereafter, he traveled the world fulfilling portrait commissions and editorial assignments.

This exhibition has been organized by the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C. This exhibition is made possible in part by Creagent Marketing.