Karsh Retrospective - News & Events - Library and Archives Canada
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The National Archives of Canada a major contributor to the Karsh retrospective in Berlin

Ottawa, February 6, 2001  --  In December 2000, the German Historical Museum inaugurated the exhibition Yousuf Karsh: Heroes of Light and Shadow, at the Crown Prince Palace in Berlin.

This vast exhibition spanning Yousuf Karsh’s professional life as a photographer, contains over 300 photographs, many being shown publicly for the first time. A third of them come from the National Archives of Canada (NA) which acquired Karsh's entire studio output in 1987 and his business archives in 1995. The NA's contribution does not stop there. Lilly Koltun, Director General of the Preservation Branch and a Karsh specialist, attended the opening in Berlin and later gave a public presentation on Karsh's work in German. She explored the reasons for the unique impact of Karsh's portraits on several generations of people since the 1930s. She stated that the exhibition offers an unprecedented opportunity to see a wide array of the work that has made Karsh an international figure and the only Canadian of the 100 famous people (51 of whom he had photographed) listed in the International Who's Who 2000.

The exhibition is divided into themes which allow the visitor to follow Karsh’s career from the early days of taking passport photos, photographing for advertising and magazine covers, making film stills, setting up a studio in Ottawa in the 1930's, to taking portraits of famous people. According to Janet Yates, Canadian guest curator, “This is the first time there has been an exhibition exposing the entire body of Karsh’s work. His famous portraits, such as [the one of] Churchill, are known, but there are many sides of Karsh that have not been explored or exhibited [in the past]. Photographs from important commercial and industrial projects, as well as early images that link him to the Pictoralist movement, are on view in Berlin. An exhibition of this importance would simply not have been possible without the rich collections of the National Archives and the expertise of Lilly Koltun.”

Karsh enthusiasts travelling to Germany have until February 27, 2001, to see Yousuf Karsh: Heroes of Light and Shadow in person. Those unable to visit the exhibition in person will be able to see it in part on the Museum’s Web site or else in the German catalogue of the exhibition. In addition to some 140 full-sized plates of Karsh’s photographs, it presents six essays that delve into different aspects of his work. More information on the catalogue can be found at www.dhm.de/ausstellungen/karsh/katalog.htm. Details on the upcoming English edition will be available later on the National Archives Web site (www.collectionscanada.ca). Those interested in finding out more about the NA holdings relating to Yousuf Karsh can consult the ArchiviaNet section of this site. Some of these documents are also expected to be part of an exhibition dedicated to Karsh at the Portrait Gallery of Canada scheduled to open its doors in Ottawa in 2004-05.

Media contact:
Louisa Coates
Senior Communications Officer
Telephone: (613) 992-9361
E-mail: media@lac-bac.gc.ca