20 September – 22 October 2016
The first major London exhibition in 30 years of portraits by renowned photographer Yousuf Karsh (1908 – 2002) at Beetles+Huxley. The exhibition includes signed lifetime prints of twentieth century sitters from the realms of politics, film, royalty and art including Winston Churchill, George Bernard Shaw, Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso, Georgia O’Keefe, Joan Miró, Audrey Hepburn, Albert Einstein, Fidel Castro and Martin Luther King.
Karsh was one of the most respected and acclaimed photographers of the century. Fascinated by “greatness”, he aimed to capture the essential character of his sitters, instilling them with both charisma and dignity in his nearly 60-year career. A highlight of the exhibition is Karsh’s iconic wartime portrait of Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Taken in 1941, whilst Churchill was visiting Ottawa, the portrait was a career-defining break for Karsh. Churchill refused to discard his cigar but Karsh took the cigar out of the politician’s mouth and managed to capture the glare of the world’s most famous politician of the time. Published worldwide by newspapers and magazines, the photograph established Karsh’s international reputation and was one of the most reproduced photographs in history
After the huge success of Karsh’s Churchill portrait, high-profile commissions followed, many of which are included in this exhibition. On show will be Karsh’s 1951 portrait of Princess Elizabeth; his portrait of Fidel Castro whilst Prime Minister of Cuba in 1971; Pablo Picasso in his ceramics gallery in 1954 and actress Audrey Hepburn in Paramount Studios in 1956 amongst others.
By the time the Karsh studio closed in 1992 after nearly 60 years of business, he had photographed every Canadian prime minister since Mackenzie King, every French president since Charles de Gaulle, every British prime minister since Winston Churchill and every U.S. president since Herbert Hoover.