The Art of the Celebrity Portrait
June 11 to September 3, 2011
Edward Steichen
Yousuf Karsh
The aim and the art of the portraitist who works with a camera are not merely to produce a likeness but to reveal the mind and the soul behind the human face. When I have had the opportunity of studying those who have left their mark upon our time, I have tried to focus my camera on that quality which has made my subjects stand out from among their contemporaries. I have always been in quest of a secret, for that quality is elusive, indefinable.

— Yousuf Karsh in Portraits of Greatness

This exhibition of 35 prints shows the remarkable skills of Karsh and Steichen, two of the twentieth century’s greatest portrait photographers. They first met in New York City in 1936, when a young Canadian, Yousuf Karsh called upon an emerging American photographer, Edward Steichen, in his New York studio.

The personalities who came to Karsh and Steichen to be photographed had power, wealth and fame. Both photographers had an extraordinary ability to engage their sitters on equal terms and lead them to reveal their inner world to the camera without compromising their own artistic integrity or standards of excellence. Although Karsh clearly learned a great deal about celebrity portraiture from Steichen, he also developed a unique portrait style that makes his work so very recognizable.

Yousuf Karsh and Edward Steichen: The Art of the Celebrity Portrait, illustrates the connection and distinctiveness of the two of the world’s most fascinating celebrity portraitists.

Organized by the National Gallery of Canada
Curated by Ann Thomas
Generously sponsored by Radio NL
View images of the exhibition here.

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