September 19, 2010

Faces by Yousuf Karsh

A portfolio of images by the great 20th-century portrait photographer is on display in Thomaston.

By Bob Keyes
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Karsh photographed Albert Einstein in 1948.

Image courtesy of Haynes Galleries

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Yousef Karsh's portrait of artist Georgia O'Keeffe

Image courtesy of Haynes Galleries

Additional Photos Below


THE YOUSUF KARSH portraits at Haynes Galleries in Thomaston herald the arrival of several high-profile photography exhibitions in Maine.

ON SEPT. 30, the Portland Museum of Art opens a show that focuses on the accomplishments of Group f/64, a California photography group that took its name from the camera aperture that produces depth of field and sharp focus.

IN ROCKPORT, the Center for Maine Contemporary Arts mounts "Photographing Maine: Ten Years Later, 2000-2009," a broad survey show curated by Bruce Brown that follows up CMCA's landmark 2000 exhibition, "Photographing Maine: 1840-2000." The new show, featuring 150 contemporary Maine photographers, opens Oct. 2 and continues through Dec. 5.

AND THROUGH DECEMBER, the Farnsworth Art Museum is showing Arnold Newman Prize winner Emily Shiffer's documentary work "Youth on the Cheyenne River Reservation" in South Dakota.

- Bob Keyes



WHERE: Haynes Galleries, 91 Main St., Thomaston

WHEN: Through Oct. 23

INFORMATION: 354-0605;

"The world's reception of that photograph -- which captured public imagination as the epitome of the indomitable spirit of the British people -- changed my life," he wrote.

It might never have happened if not for Karsh's gall.

Karsh arranged to photograph the British leader after a speech at the Canadian capital. He set up his lights in the speaker's chamber, and turned them on when Churchill entered the room. The lights startled Churchill, who was unaware that a photographer had been retained to capture the event.

After a few awkward moments, Churchill consented to a pose and lit a cigar. Karsh wanted Churchill without the cigar.

He writes, "I held out an ashtray, but he would not dispose of it. I went back to my camera and made sure that everything was all right technically. I waited; he continued to chomp vigorously at his cigar. I waited. Then I stepped toward him and, without premeditation, but ever so respectfully, I said, 'Forgive me, sir,' and plucked the cigar out of his mouth. the time I got back to my camera, he looked so belligerent he could have devoured me. It was at that instant that I took the photograph."

The scowl on Churchill's face -- the indignity of giving up his smoke to a pushy photographer -- became his visual trademark, and it was formed largely through the Karsh image.


Haynes, the gallery owner, appreciates Karsh's ability to achieve brilliance.

"As an artist and a collector, I like great craft. I appreciate greatness in any pursuit. I just like people who do it better than you ever could imagine anyone doing it, and Karsh is that guy," Haynes said.

Haynes, who considers himself a Sunday painter, has been a serious art collector for about 30 years. He made his money in the advertising business in Nashville, and rolled his business success into his passion for art.

He was drawn to Maine by Andrew Wyeth. Haynes went to art school in the 1960s. At the time, abstract expressionism was the popular trend, yet Wyeth was accomplishing some of his best work as a devoted realist painter. In addition to admiring Wyeth's willingness to buck the trend, Haynes appreciated the artist's sense of design, medium and subject matter.

"I moved to Maine because of him," Haynes said. "I wanted to see what he painted; I wanted to see what he saw."

Haynes even went so far as to rent a house in Cushing near the Olson House, where Wyeth made his best-known work, "Christina's World."

Among the Karsh photographs, Haynes is also showing and selling dozens of paintings and drawings by Wyeth, Rockwell Kent and many contemporary painters. The exhibition is on view through Oct. 23.

"Everything is for sale," said Haynes, who owns a home in Owls Head and plans to operate the Thomaston gallery on a seasonal basis.

"Why sell it? So I can buy something better. The beauty of having a great collection is enjoying it. putting this out on view, I get to talk about it and look at it every day." 

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:


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Additional Photos

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Karsh photographed many of the most important figures of the 20th century, including Ernest Hemingway.

Yousuf Karsh photo

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Karsh's much-reproduced portrait of Winston Churchill

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"Frogs and Pads" by Andy Graham, from the upcoming show in Rockport

Andy Graham photo

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