Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Yousuf Karsh: American Portraits, Part II

Where: National Portrait Gallery

When: through November 2, 2014

Usually when you describe something as "more of the same," it's not a compliment.  In this case, more of the same is quite a tribute.  In 2009, the photographer Yousuf Karsh's widow gave the National Portrait Gallery over 100 of his photographs.  This is the second display of the best of his work.  If you liked the first selection, you'll like these as well.

Two photographs are hold-overs from the first part of the show: his iconic Winston Churchill shot and his informal photograph of Franklin Roosevelt with his son James.  The rest of the pieces are new.  Once again, you have fascinating people paired with superb photography - an excellent small show.

My favorite of these works is one of Muhammad Ali, which I would call pugnacious in pinstripes.  Pictured in a combative pose, you see the fighter in the man, both inside and outside the ring.  He's dressed, not in boxing gear, but in a pinstripe suit, showing his considerable business acumen.  An excellent shot, one that shows not just the surface of the man, but something deeper.  You could say that about all of the photographs.  One can only hope that more of his works will make their way into future shows.

Verdict: An excellent way to spend a lunch hour; whether you saw the first installment or not, don't miss this one.

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