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Ida Kar Bohemian Photographer by Clare Freestone, Karen Wright

Ida Kar Bohemian Photographer


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Ida Kar Bohemian Photographer by Clare Freestone, Karen Wright

'Miss Kar is one of the most distinguished and gifted photographers in England.' Bryan Robertson, Whitechapel Gallery, 1959 Ida Kar: Bohemian Photographer charts Kar's life (1908-74) and career from her first studio in Cairo in the late 1930s to her move to London in 1945, where she was introduced to the British art world through the family of Jacob Epstein and her husband Victor Musgrave. Her first solo exhibition in London, Forty Artists from London and Paris,at Musgrave's Gallery One in 1954, included perceptive and sympathetic studies of the artists Stanley Spencer, Tsugouharu Foujita, Alberto Giacometti, Man Ray and Le Corbusier. Fully illustrated throughout and featuring previously unseen archive material, this beautiful book shows Kar's work from the 1950s, which led to her 1960 Whitechapel retrospective. It includes literary subjects such as Iris Murdoch, Doris Lessing, Colin MacInnes and T.S. Eliot, and portraits of Jean-Paul Sartre, Andre Breton and Georges Braque taken during visits to Europe. Her later work includes the photo-essay Le Quartier St Ives (Tatler, 26 July 1961), featuring Patrick Heron, Peter Lanyon, Barbara Hepworth and Terry Frost, and her documentary portraits of Soho bohemia in the 1950s and early 1960s, including coffee bars, art galleries and protests. Kar's portrait of Fidel Castro in Cuba of 1964, demonstrates her political interests and her engagement in promoting her work. Published to accompany a major exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, London, 10 March-19 June 2011. Features previously unpublished archive material highlighting Kar's significance as a pioneering woman photographer and her Armenian heritage.

About the Author

Clare Freestone is Associate Curator of Photographs at the National Portrait Gallery,London. She has curated displays including Seizing an Instant: Photographs by Roger Mayne and Private View: British Pop and the Sixties Art Scene. Karen Wright is a writer and curator based in London. She co-founded Modern Painters magazine with Peter Fuller and is currently senior editor for Phillips de Pury & Company.

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Book Info

Publication date

7th January 2011


Clare Freestone, Karen Wright

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National Portrait Gallery Publications


160 pages


Exhibition catalogues & specific collections
Individual photographers



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