Saturday, October 4, 2008

Karsh at the MFA

I visited the Yousuf Karsh exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts last night. Celebrating 100 years since his birth, the Rabb Gallery holds a nice selection of his work, from his early student days in Boston, to his magazing work in Canada, to his launching as a portrait artist starting with his famous photo of a grumpy Winston Churchill. Karsh photgraphed hundreds of famous faces, playwrights, politicians, dancers, actresses, writers, scientists, sculptors, musicians. If you've heard of them, they probably have a Karsh portrait.

Glowering at the camera, Karsh tells us that Churchill would not put down his cigar for the portrait. So Karsh deliberately but respectfully, apologized, plucked the cigar from his lips and caught this photograph of the glowering Churchill. The chuckling Churchill portrait, taken only moments later, was of a different man, entirely.

Included in the collection, is Karsh's portrait of Albert Einstein, as well as the transcript of part of the conversation during Einstein's sitting. Karsh and Einstein discussed the nature of immortality, and the fate of the human race. Karsh asked Einstein to whom should we look for the hope of the future of the world. Einstein answer was, "To ourselves."

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