There's always one or other of us Karsh folks with our hands in a box looking for something fabulous. Our supreme scanmaster is in his secret location somewhere in the wilds of Canada pulling colour images and digitizing them for our ever-expanding non-analog archives.

Andy Warhol, 1979 © Yousuf Karsh

The one and only Betty Ford, 1918 - 2011


Calgary Stampede © Yousuf Karsh

Prince William and Duchess Catherine attended the annual Calgary Stampede this year. Mr Karsh took this photograph in 1953.


We would like to congratulate teachers Jennifer Grimm, Lydia Hardacre and Darren Vaast of Glendale School, Calgary, on the completion of their brilliant Karsh project. Each of the Grade 5 and 6 students recreated a Karsh portrait and also made a documentary style movie based on the person they each chose.

"This project really came about through serendipity and involved a wistful desire to go to the Glenbow Museum and a chance look at the upcoming shows to discover that a Yousuf Karsh exhibition was coming to Calgary. After an innocent email asking for permission to use Karsh portraits as inspirations, we had our final photography assignment!"

After learning about Mr Karsh's history, the students referenced dozens of portraits including Mandela, Hemingway, Schweitzer, Warhol, Hepburn, Keller, Cousteau and Bogart, researching their subjects and recreating the original photograph.

Click through to 'Finished Products' to enjoy the complete set of images and videos - you might even learn a thing or two! Nothing I did at school came close to being this cool!


Sam as Nelson Mandela / Top: Leyla as QEII


Aimee as Audrey Hepburn. Original photographs © Yousuf Karsh


The opening at Sejong Museum of Art last week kicked off a two month-long exhibition there, with two more venues in Korea in the offing. 'The Exhibition of the Great Portraitist's Work KARSH' is a large and beautifully laid-out show; our fine art representative Jason Christian sent these photos of the venue. More info at the Visit Korea website, and a review here.


Karsh_Williams_Tennessee.jpgTwas a busy week for Karsh licensing. It is the centenary of the birth of Tennessee Williams and Newsweek used this great portrait to illustrate their article. I personally had not known that Williams "choked to death on a bottle cap in a drug-fueled haze" prior to reading the 2 page spread.

Williams portrait from 1956


The stunning Princess Grace of Monaco is being used by the Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt Design Museum here in New York to promote 'Set in Style: The Jewelry of Van Cleef & Arpels' which is on now through May.

Grace portrait from 1956


There's always good old Mother Teresa to be licensed. This time she's adorning an educational poster for a group in Pennsylvania.

Mother Teresa portrait from 1988


It's also the centenary of the birth of Marshall McLuhan. Via Wikipedia - Marshall McLuhan was a Canadian educator, philosopher, and scholar - a professor of English literature, a literary critic, a rhetorician, and a communication theorist. McLuhan's work is viewed as one of the cornerstones of the study of media theory, as well as having practical applications in the advertising and television industries. McLuhan is known for coining the expressions 'the medium is the message' and 'the global village' and predicted the World Wide Web almost thirty years before it was invented. He was a fixture in media discourse from the late 1960s to his death and he continues to be an influential and controversial figure. More than ten years after his death he was named the 'patron saint' of Wired magazine.

McLuhan portrait from 1974   All images © Yousuf Karsh


Here's an example of a more unusual portrait by Yousuf Karsh. Taken in 1967, it is of Emilio Pucci, fashion designer and politician, and his wife Baronessa Cristina Nannini. Mike Hartley of bigflannel, designer of both the Yousuf Karsh website and aCurator, says it's his favourite Karsh.

Emilio Pucci, 1967 © Yousuf Karsh


At the Karsh Estate, we get word from various people when they find something of interest on the web. The curator at the Supreme Court was doing research and came across an article from Popular Science Magazine from 1952, which talks about Karsh and his techniques, his equipment, and his recent "branching out" into industrial work. It is noted that "...because he is fascinated by the human countenance his pictures of factory interiors have workmen's faces in the foreground."

Ford of Canada 'Rear Window', Gow Crapper, 1950 © Yousuf Karsh

Karsh_Mandela_02.jpgI have worked with the Estate of Yousuf Karsh for several years, and I edited text for the official Yousuf Karsh website, but I still hear stories about the shoots that I have never heard before. Tooling around today I found a comment from 2009 in an article on The Online Photographer, Mike Johnston's extensive photo blog, about Karsh's most recent book 'Regarding Heroes', from a reader who had attended the opening at the Art Institute of Chicago. Director and Curator for the Estate, Jerry Fielder, had related the story of Karsh's 1990 session with Mandela, and confirms this is what happened.

I personally never had the opportunity to meet Mr Karsh but it's easy to gather he was extremely charming and entertaining. The commenter, Ken Tanaka, put it so well, I hope he doesn't mind me lifting his comment.

"In 1990 Karsh was to photograph Nelson Mandela. Mandela arrived at Karsh's studio in Ottawa with only an hour of rest after his long trip from South Africa. Karsh was normally a master of establishing quick rapport with his sitters but he could see that Mandela was just plain exhasuted and that getting that "public mask" off would be very hard at that moment.

So Karsh decided to try telling Mandela a story to warm things up. He recounted a recent session in which he photographed the Pope. While chatting, he asked him, "How many people work at the Vatican?". The Pope considered the question for a moment, as if trying to formulate an accurate answer, and then replied, "About half.". For a moment Mandela's exhaustion and troubles lifted as he found the little story hilarious. Click! Karsh managed to capture that moment in this portrait."

This is one of the results.

Nelson Mandela © Yousuf Karsh

Currently showing through November 3rd 2010 at the USC Fisher Museum of Art is 'Regarding Heroes', an exhibition celebrating Karsh, "one of our greatest portrait photographers, whose portrait subjects include such political, social and literary figures as Nelson Mandela, Audrey Hepburn, Winston Churchill and Robert Frost."

If you're in LA on September 30th, at 7.30 pm pianist Victoria Kirsch will be joined by two fellow USC alumni, soprano Shana Blake Hill and bass-baritone Cedric Berry, for a program of vocal and instrumental music inspired by the portrait subjects featured in the exhibition. Actor Jamieson K. Price will read excerpts from Karsh's reminiscences of his photography sessions, revealing fascinating and sometimes surprising details about the iconic figures he photographed.

Visit the Karsh website for details.

Frank Lloyd Wright, 1945 © Yousuf Karsh

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