Portraits by Ida Kar

Portraits by Ida Kar. Top left: William Turnbull, sculptor, 1955. Top right: Self-portrait, late 1950s. Bottom: Bridget Riley, artist, 1963. All images © The National Portrait Gallery.

Ida Kar: Bohemian Photographer, 1908-1974
10 March – 19th June 2011

National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place, London, WC2H 0HE
Open daily: 10:00-18:00. Thursday-Friday until 21:00
Entrance: £3 (Concessions £2.50/£2, free for gallery supporters)
To book advance tickets call 020 7907 7079 (transaction fee applies) or online.
See both NPG special photography exhibitions this spring by booking a joint ticket with Hoppé online now.
See both exhibitions for only £12 (£11/£10 concessions) simply add a ticket for Ida Kar when you book your Hoppé tickets online www.npg.org.uk/hoppe or in person at the Gallery.

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.

And if you can’t make it to the exhibition, here is the latest tribute to her and her work…