Wednesday, April 27, 2016

YOUSUF KARSH & JOHN GARO: THE SEARCH FOR A MASTER'S LEGACY by Mehmed Ali

Joe Dagdigian looks on as author Mehmed Ali inscribes and autographs a copy of his recently published book, 
YOUSUF KARSH & JOHN GARO: THE SEARCH FOR A MASTER'S LEGACY,  
preceding his lecture at ALMA yesterday evening.
Author of YOUSUF KARSH & JOHN GARO: THE SEARCH FOR A MASTER'S LEGACY, 
Mehmed Ali inscribes and autographs his recently published book to Lisa Dagdigian last night
 at the Armenian Museum of America, Watertown, Massachusetts.    Photos by Marash Girl
Read the book to learn about John Garo and Yousuf Karsh, two master photographers, both Armenians from the Ottoman Empire who immigrated to Boston, Massachusetts, during the first half of the 20th Century.  The Armenian Museum of America notes, "When President Calvin Coolidge was asked to choose between the artist John Singer Sargent or the photographer John Garo to make his official presidential portrait, Coolidge chose Garo.  . . "  After Yousouf Karsh fled the Armenian Genocide (1915-1920) and joined his uncle in Canada, Karsh was sent by his uncle to apprentice with the photographer Garo.

At the time, Garo, who had tried to make a living as a painter, was an established photographer in Boston.  His photographs were painterly, soft focus, impressionistic, chiaroscuro; he was a pioneer in color photography.  He created the "Garograph".  Wilson's Photographic Magazine, Vol. XLIII, March 1906, published an article by Sidney Allan entitled, "A Painter Photographer - J. H. Garo", in  which Allan describes in great detail the process by which Garo created his photographic prints.

Estrellita Karsh, the wife of Yousuf Karsh, was present at yesterday's lecture given by the authors of the book,    JOHN GARO: THE SEARCH FOR A MASTER'S LEGACY.  She reminded the audience that the Garo Studio was in Copley Square, Boston, directly across from the Museum of Fine Arts building  (now the Copley Hotel).  Karsh had lived through those dark years of the Armenian Genocide; thus, when he came to "intern" with Garo in Boston's Copley Square, Karsh spent many long hours at the Museum of Fine Arts, drinking in the beauty of the art of the great masters. . . beauty which served as an antidote to the horror of the Armenian Genocide, horror he had witnessed (and survived) early on in his life.  "The museum was his university," said Estrellita Karsh.  "He had never seen such beauty."

Karsh, who adored and admired Garo, spent much of his later life seeking photographs made by Garo, noted Estrellita Karsh.  She encouraged all to look in attics and long forgotten boxes for photographs that may sport the Garo imprint.

N.B. This post is written with thanks to Joseph Turner for the loan of his iPhone6 without which there would be no photos today, as MarashGirl's iPhone was out of battery!            

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