Yousuf Karsh @ AIC

The Art Institute of Chicago went out on a limb showing a large selection of portraits by Yousuf Karsh called Regarding Heroes (January 22 - April 26, 2009). There are elements of kitsch and passion that make his work defiantly out of tune with current portraiture be it overly PhotoShopped pictures of pretty people or the deadpan view camera work of so many contemporary practitioners. Karsh's In Search of Greatness was about the only photography book the Manitowoc Public Library had when we first moved back to this small Wisconsin town. The mass-circulated book from 1962 showed off the lush vision of Karsh. Smoldering cigarettes, chewed on cigars, long white eye brow hairs, glasses of booze and rich facial texture emerged from the blackness. It was great to see the large and immaculate silver gelatin prints on display in Chicago where the details crackeld from the prints framed and hanging there on the classic burlap covered walls of the basement photography gallery. This was curator David Travis' last show for the AIC and it rocked as Lisa D. would say.

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