Michigan connection brings Karsh’s portraits of Georgia O’Keeffe, Pablo Picasso to the DIA’s photography exhibition

Yousuf Karsh, Georgia O’Keefe, 1956 (printed later); gelatin silver print. Gift of Estrellita and Yousuf Karsh in honor of Governor James and Mrs. Janet Blanchard, © Estate of Yousuf Karsh.

Georgia O’Keeffe, 1956, by Yousuf Karsh. Gift of Estrellita and Yousuf Karsh in honor of Governor James and Mrs. Janet Blanchard, © Estate of Yousuf Karsh.

While serving as U.S. ambassador to Canada from 1993-96, former Michigan governor James Blanchard befriended Armenian-born photographer Yousuf Karsh, who operated a successful portrait studio in Ottawa, Canada. In honor of Gov. Blanchard and Mrs. Blanchard, Karsh and his wife Estrellita donated to the DIA two portfolios of Karsh’s most famous portraits of notable individuals from the arts, sciences, and politics in 1991. A selection of the portraits are now on view in the exhibition In the Company of Artists at the DIA.

In perhaps one his most famous photographs, Karsh traveled from his studio in Ottawa to Abiquiu, New Mexico, to capture American painter Georgia O’Keeffe for a portrait around 1956. He later wrote that he had hoped to find in her “some of the poetic intensity of her paintings.” Instead Karsh found “the austere intensity of dedication to her work.” He made a quiet portrait of the distant O’Keeffe during a moment of repose in her home.

The exhibition includes Karsh’s images of Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst, Alberto Giacometti, and Isamu Noguchi on view through February 15.

Yousuf Karsh, Pablo Picasso, 1954 (printed later); gelatin silver print. Gift of Estrellita and Yousuf Karsh in honor of Governor James and Mrs. Janet Blanchard, © Estate of Yousuf Karsh.

Pablo Picasso, 1954, by Yousuf Karsh. Gift of Estrellita and Yousuf Karsh in honor of Governor James and Mrs. Janet Blanchard, © Estate of Yousuf Karsh.

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One response to “Michigan connection brings Karsh’s portraits of Georgia O’Keeffe, Pablo Picasso to the DIA’s photography exhibition

  1. Karsh is a brilliant portrait photographer. So influential.

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