YOUSUF KARSH (Armenian, 1908 - 2002)
Yousuf Karsh was born in Mardin, Armenia, in December 1908. During his childhood, Karsh witnessed the systematic massacre of over one million Armenians during and after World War I. In 1924, Karsh was sent to Quebec, Canada, to live with his uncle, photographer George Nakash. Karsh apprenticed with Boston portrait photographer John Garo beginning in 1928, but by 1932, he had returned to Ottawa to open his studio. Karsh photographed many visiting dignitaries and celebrities, including Sir Winston Churchill, Marian Anderson and Ernest Hemingway.
Karsh married Estrellita Nachbar, a medical writer and historian, in 1962. Her professional interests drew him to work with the National Poster Children of the Muscular Dystrophy Association for many years. In 1971, Karsh was awarded the Presidential Citation (U.S.A.) for meritorious service on behalf of the handicapped.
Karsh was honored with honorary degrees from more than two dozen universities. He was appointed Visiting Professor at Ohio University’s School of Fine Arts and at Emerson University. He was awarded the Canada Council Medal in 1965; the Medal of Service of the Order of Canada in 1968; the Medal of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts; Honorary Master of Photographic Arts (Professional Photographers of Canada); and Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain. He was also made a Companion of the Order of Canada, the country’s highest civilian honor. A major collection of his work, “Karsh 100,” was presented at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in 2008.
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Art Institute of Chicago
Portrait Gallery of Canada, Ottowa
National Portrait Gallery, London
National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo
National Gallery of Australia
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris
Royal Library, Windsor Castle, England