Artworks and Artists
Yousuf Karsh
Born in Mardin, Armenia, 23 December 1908
Died in Boston, Massachusetts, 13 July 2002
Self-portrait, 1976
1976 Yousuf Karsh

Yousuf Karsh

Yousuf Karsh was one of the greatest portrait photographers of the 20th century. In 1924, he arrived in Canada, alone, at the age of sixteen, to live with his uncle, who operated a portrait studio in Sherbrooke, Quebec. In 1928, he was sent to serve an apprenticeship with John Garo, a fashionable portrait photographer in Boston. Four years later, Karsh opened his own studio in Ottawa. Karsh photographed some 15,000 famous people during his career. Among them were many of the world’s best-known scientists, authors, artists, musicians, actors, politicians, and royalty. Many of his photographs appeared on the cover and in the pages of Life magazine, reaching millions of people. Portraits like those of Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemingway and John F. Kennedy have become icons. Karsh was a master of the psychological portrait. He explained, “I try to photograph people’s spirit and thoughts.” (Danziger & Conrad, Interviews with Master Photographers, 1977) Karsh preferred to photograph his sitters in their own environment. He used carefully controlled artificial light and a large format camera.