Sunday, December 10, 2006

Homage to Karsh

In a recent posting on Sibelius I included a fantastic photograph by Yousuf Karsh. His portraits of Churchill, Shaw, Einstein and Hemmingway are well known, but here are a few lesser-known ones:

This portrait of Pablo Casals was taken whilst he was playing a Bach cello sonata. You can almost hear the music.

How on earth did Karsh get Nikita Krushchev to dress up like this? Karsh wrote 'When I saw him, I thought his strong peasant face demanded a frame. It was Moscow's first warm spring day, but the Chairman cheerfully sent for the biggest fur coat I've ever seen.'

With Brigitte Bardot, Karsh has wisely abandoned any gimics or props and allowed her natural sexiness to speak for itself. I'm sure that Karsh would never have said 'Stick your tits out love' but there is almost a Page Three quality to it.

I have never heard of Gratien Gelinas, but I had to include this inspired portrait.

I don't recall seeing this photo of the three Apollo 11 astronauts - Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins. It makes a refreshing change from the inane image of them smiling in their space suits and has a heroic, Mount Rushmore quality to it.

In the case of Martha Graham, I cannot think of a more fitting tribute to this woman's talents.

Finally, here is one of several photographs that Karsh took of Dwight Eisenhower.

This has shades of Holbein's Ambassdors.

Karsh died in 2002. There was a very good book published after Karsh retired called 'Karsh - a Fifty-Year Retrospective' but it is difficult to get hold of. We need a new book that does justice to this wonderful photographer.


Susan Hill said...

Genius. Pure genius. Nothing tricky, just letting the character of the person emerge through beautiful, austere images. Thanks for reminding us of him.

Goncalo Veiga said...

I don't know who Gratien Gelinas was but if I had to pick a favourite, this would have to be the one!

Amazing photos!