Nicholas Metivier Gallery

Yousuf Karsh
March 3–26, 2016


Opening Reception: Thursday, March 3, 6 – 8 PM

Nicholas Metivier Gallery is pleased to announce its representation of the Estate of Yousuf Karsh for Canada. Our first exhibition from the Karsh Archive will open on March 3rd and will run until March 26th with an opening reception on Thursday, March 3rd.

Born in 1908 to Armenian parents, Karsh immigrated to Canada in 1925 to live with his uncle, a prominent portrait photographer in Sherbrooke, Quebec. Karsh developed an interest and talent for photography and went on to apprentice with John Garo in Boston, one of the top portraitists in the United States at the time. Karsh’s apprenticeship with Garo was hugely influential and in 1932, Karsh set up his own portrait studio in Ottawa. There, he would go on to photograph some of the most important figures of the twentieth century. He closed his studio in 1992, relocating to Boston in 1997. Karsh passed away in 2002. Today, the Yousuf Karsh Archive is housed at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

This exhibition assembles some of Karsh’s most iconic portraits including Ernest Hemingway, Albert Einstein, Pablo Picasso and Pierre Trudeau. He is renowned for his mastery of light and shadow capturing the spirit and character of his sitters. His portrait of Winston Churchill in 1941 stands as the most recognized and symbolic portrait of the politician ever recorded. The famous story behind the belligerent look on Churchill’s face – Karsh swiftly removing the cigar from Churchill’s mouth moments before the photograph was taken – speaks to the artistic control and clarity of vision with which Karsh governed his studio. Prior to a session, Karsh researched as many facts as possible about the sitter, studying their appearance in existing photographs or speaking with them in advance and watching their expressions. He strived for perfection in every facet of his practice, creating timeless images that tell the stories of the people that helped shape the world we live in today.

The endless fascination of these people for me lies in what I call their inward power. It is part of the elusive secret that hides in everyone, and it has been my life’s work to try to capture it on film. The mask we present to others and, too often, to ourselves may lift for only a second—to reveal that power in an unconscious gesture, a raised brow, a surprised response, a moment of repose. This is the moment to record.
–Yousuf Karsh

Yousuf Karsh is a two-time recipient of the Order of Canada for lifetime achievement. Major retrospectives have been held at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; the Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and the National Portrait Gallery, London. Collections include the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Portrait Gallery, London; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the National Gallery of Canada.

For more information on this artist, click here.