The Bogie man: Humphrey Bogart’s famous face is no less striking today than when captured by Yousuf Karsh 70 years ago.
More than 60 images that became symbols of their age will line the walls of the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art starting March 18. Yousef Karsh, the Armenian-Canadian portrait photographer, documented some of the most meaningful and telling portraits of the world’s power brokers, Hollywood heavy hitters, great thinkers, and artists. Tarissa Tiberti, executive director of the gallery, has curated a streamlined “best of” show using works on loan from the Boston Museum of Fine Art’s permanent collection, to which Karsh and his wife, Estrellita, gave 199 photographs before 1998, and to which she continued to gift after his death in 2002. “There’s Georgia O’Keeffe in her studio, almost like a Georgia O’Keeffe painting,” Tiberti says. “Clark Gable as Rhett Butler—the man we all wanted to date. Albert Einstein has his hands clasped under his chin and you can only imagine what he’s thinking.” They all form a show that she “picked for its relevance to the time—and of course to BGFA, Bellagio, and Las Vegas.” Each image has a backstory, provided by audio guide tours and information panels. One of Tiberti’s favorite stories: the career-defining moment that came for a young Karsh in 1941, when he was hired to photograph Winston Churchill. His portrait of the statesman, scowling into the camera, would become a symbolic representation of England’s wartime. But that iconic frown is less complex than Churchill contemplating the state of the nation. “Karsh had pulled a cigar out of Churchill’s hand, and he has this stunned expression,” Tiberti laughs. “Karsh could, like no one else, capture the essence of a person—even the most private.”