The iconic works of Yousuf Karsh, one of the great portrait photographers of the 20th century, are on display in Halifax, where Karsh first landed as a refugee at 15.
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts organized the exhibit, “The World of Yousuf Karsh: A Private Essence.” Karsh’s portraits of famous actors, authors and politicians will be on display until October at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21.
The Halifax exhibit differs from the Montreal version by highlighting Karsh’s refugee experience and his time in Nova Scotia’s capital.
Sara England is the exhibitions coordinator at the immigration museum.
“The exhibition for Yousuf Karsh is really highlighting contributions of an amazing Armenian Canadian photographer,” she told the Signal in an interview.
Karsh arrived in Halifax in 1924 as a survivor of the First World War Armenian genocide. He died in 2002 at the age of 93.
This year, the Canadian immigration museum is focusing on the contributions of immigrants and refugees in Canada. Halifax was once Canada’s main entry point for newcomers, with nearly one million people coming through Pier 21.
Karsh’s portrait of Sir Winston Churchill is the photographer’s best well-known work and it made him famous. The black-and-white photo of a stern-looking British prime minister was taken inside the Canadian Parliament in 1941. It prompted numerous celebrities to seek out Karsh to have him snap their portraits, as well.
Estrellita Karsh, Karsh’s wife, donated more than 100 original silver gelatin prints to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 2021. That’s how Karsh’s exhibition “The World of Yousuf Karsh: A Private Essence” was born.
Karsh’s famous portraits have been featured as cover images for biographies of writers, scientists, and politicians.
England said Karsh’s exhibition drew crowds that grew by the day.
About the author
Xixi Jiang, who often goes by Jacky, is from China. She’s a fourth-year student in BJH program at the University of King’s College.