Ida Kar. Bohemian Photographer 1908-1974 :: National Portrait Gallery, London

Ida Kar, born Ida Karamian Ида Карамян (8 April 1908 – 24 December 1974), was a photographer known for her portraits of artists and writers. She was born in Tambov, near Moscow, in Russia, to Armenian parents. She went to study in Paris in 1928 and was influenced by the avant-garde currents she encountered there. She went on to establish her photographic practice ‘Idabel’ in Cairo with her first husband in 1933. In 1945 she moved to London with her second husband, the artist and critic Victor Musgrave, who opened Gallery One in London’s Soho. Kar specialised in portraits of the famous artists and writers of the time and photographed and exhibited Forty Artists from Paris and London in 1954. The height of Kar’s success was her Whitechapel Gallery solo exhibition in 1960. (From Wikipedia)

In 1960 Ida Kar became the first photographer to have a retrospective exhibition at a major London art gallery. Fifty years after her groundbreaking installation at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery presents a re-evaluation of the work of one of the key figures of twentieth-century portraiture.
Despite receiving public and critical acclaim from her contemporaries, Ida Kar remains surprisingly little known. This exhibition of over seventy of Kar’s portraits highlights the significant role played by this woman photographer at the heart of the creative avant-garde.
Russian-born, of Armenian heritage, Ida Kar (1908–74) was instrumental in encouraging the acceptance of photography as a fine art. Her subjects were the most celebrated figures from the literary and artistic spheres of 1950s and 1960s Europe and Russia. They include artists such as Henry Moore, George Braque, Gino Severini and Bridget Riley and writers such as Iris Murdoch and Jean-Paul Sartre.
Taken in the environments in which they lived and worked, the photographs on display offer a fascinating insight into post-war cultural life. Comprising several iconic portraits and many never previously exhibited,  the exhibition is drawn from the Ida Kar Archive, acquired by the National Portrait Gallery in 1999.

IDA KAR Bohemian Photographer 1908-1974
March 10 – June 19, 2011
National Portrait Gallery
St Martin’s Place
London WC2H 0HE

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