Portraits by Yousuf Karsh to be showcased at Dayton Art Institute

Portraits by Canadian Armenian photographer Yousuf Karsh will go in display at the Dayton Art Institution this weekend, Springfield News-Sun reports.

On loan from the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, the exhibit titled “Yousuf Karsh: American Portraits” showcases 48 photographs by one of the most renowned portrait photographers of our time and features Americans who have distinguished themselves in fields ranging from business and medicine to entertainment, politics and the arts.

Portraits include writer Ernest Hemingway; artists Georgia O’Keeffe and Andy Warhol; actors Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart; athletes Muhammad Ali and Jackie Robinson; business leaders Elizabeth Arden and Warren Buffett; architects Frank Lloyd Wright and I. M. Pei; first ladies Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Eleanor Roosevelt; and entertainment giants Walt Disney and Jim Henson.

An Armenian Genocide survivor, Karsh migrated to Canada as a refugee in 1924 at the age of 16 where he lived with an uncle who was an established professional photographer. After an apprenticeship with Boston portrait photographer John H. Garo, Karsh returned to Canada in 1932 where he opened a portrait studio in Ottawa. The phenomenal success of his 1941 portrait of Winston Churchill, which you’ll see in this exhibition, launched Karsh’s international career. He died in 2002.

The traveling exhibit — first displayed in Washington, D.C., in 2013-14 — was organized by Ann M. Shumard, senior curator of photographs at the National Portrait Gallery. I spoke with Shumard about her museum, Yousuf Karsh and the photos we’ll see on display.

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