Yousuf Karsh


One of the greatest photographers of all time Yousuf Karsh arrived in Canada as an Armenian refugee from the Western Armenia territories in the Turkish Ottoman Empire which perpetrated the Armenian Genocide.

In 1928 Karsh apprenticed with photographer John Garo in Boston then returned to Canada where Prime Minister Mackenzie King helped him photograph the visiting diplomats.

In 1941 Karsh took the legendary portrait of Winston Churchill — one of the most reproduced images in history.

The photographic subjects of Karsh (Armenian name Hovsep Karshian) included Pablo Picasso, Albert Einstein, Ernest Hemingway, Queen Elizabeth II, Clark Gable, Audrey Hepburn, Pope John Paul II, Grace Kelly, John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy, Sophia Loren, Laurence Olivier, George Bernard Shaw, Andy Warhol, Frank Lloyd Wright, Humphrey Bogart, Mother Theresa, Walt Disney, Mohammed Ali, Martin Luther King and many more.

Karsh was named one of the 100 Most Notable People of the Century in 2000 by International Who’s Who and Karsh had photographed 51 of those 100. Karsh was also the only Armenian, the only Canadian, and the only photographer to make the list.

Karsh died at age 93 on July 13th, 2002 in Boston.

His awards include: Medal of Service of the Order of Canada and the Centennial Medal (1968), Medal of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts (1975), Achievement of Life Award of the Encyclopedia Britannica (1980), Companion of the Order of Canada (1990), Gold Medal of Merit of the National Society of Arts and Letters, USA (1991).

Karsh’s 100th anniversary was marked by the release of 3 postal stamps with photographs Karsh took of Winston Churchill, Audrey Hepburn, and of himself.

Parajanov-Vartanov Institute

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