Yousuf KARSH, Martha Graham Enlarge 1 /1

Yousuf KARSH

Armenia 1908 – United States of America 2002

  • 1925 Canada

Martha Graham 1948 Creation Notes: prtd 1974
Materials & Technique: photographs, gelatin silver photograph

Dimensions: printed image 60.3 h x 49.5 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1973
Accession No: NGA 74.396.105
Subject: Portrait: female, dancer

‘There was no room to dance in her apartment. The American high-priestess of the dance sat on a stool. Yet, she seemed — she was — dancing as I took the portrait.’ (Karsh)

Together with artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe, Graham shared an interest in the simplicity of Shaker and Native American art and ritual. She launched her own company in 1929 and was the founder of the MarthaGrahamTheater in 1944. Music was created for her by leading composers including Aaron Copland, Paul Hindemith, Samue Barber and Gian-Carlo Menotti. The sets for many of her ballets were designed by the sculptor Isamu Noguchi. At the centre of her art is the idea of the body as a work of art, ardent, stretched out in space and sensual. Graham transformed how we think about movement and her impact on modern dance is immeasurable; her utterly personal technique has become part of the common vocabulary of dancers everywhere. She was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by the US government and the Légion d’Honneur by the French government, the premier awards of each country.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra