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How Karsh captures `life, humanity, mankind'

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ANYONE can click a shutter,'' says the world's leading portrait photographer of statesmen, scientists, movie stars, and artists. With penetrating eyes that look as though they see you more clearly than you see yourself, Yousuf Karsh admonishes the aspiring photographer: ``To capture greatness, don't be overconcerned with lenses, light, and film -- be a student of life, humanities, and mankind.'' Fifty years of capturing greatness have obviously enriched this Armenian-born Canadian who revolutionized portrait photography by taking the ``studio'' to his subjects. Besides a lecture schedule that has accelerated in recent years, Mr. Karsh has just photographed, inside of two months, the Queen of England, new Canadian Prime Minister and Mrs. Brian Mulroney, Leonard Bernstein, Rudolf Serkin, Zubin Mehta, and the 1984 Nobel laureate, Bishop Desmond Tutu.

Beyond that, two years after his 75th birthday coincided with the publication of his 50-year retrospective, ``Karsh,'' his popularity shows no signs of waning:

In October, Queen Elizabeth opened a Karsh exhibit as the inaugural exhibition of the new Museum of Photography, Film, and Television at Bradford, England -- visited by 92,000 people. When the exhibit later moved to the National Portrait Gallery of Scotland, it drew the highest attendance ever in the history of the gallery.

Mr. Karsh's 75th birthday exhibition, which opened in September 1983, will tour through fall 1986 to eight American cities. It is currently in the Minnesota Museum of Art in Minneapolis/St. Paul.

A documentary film on his life and work has just been completed by the famous documentarist, Harry Rasky, and is scheduled for release on United States public television next year.

``I'm busier than I've ever been,'' he says from an antique English bentwood chair in his apartment near the Canadian Parliament. ``Much busier,'' says his second wife, Estrellita, who married Mr. Karsh in 1962 and is his frequent companion wherever he travels.


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