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.

Selected Collections:

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