Ida Kar – Plymouth City Exhibition Visit

Posted on February 3, 2013


In my local museum and art gallery, ‘Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery’ an exhibition was being hosted featuring the great portraits of Ida Kar. The synopsis that accompanied the feature writes:

“In 1960 Ida Kar (1908 – 74′) became the first photographer to have a retrospective exhibition at a major London art gallery (The Whitechapel Art Gallery). Russian-born, of American heritage, she received public and critical acclaim from her contemporaries.”

NPG x133279; Ivon Hitchens by Ida Kar

“She remains surprisingly little known today, yet she was instrumental in encouraging the acceptance of photography as fine art. Her portraits offer a fascinating insight into post-war cultural life and her subjects included some of the most celebrated figures from the literary and art worlds of 1950’s and 1960’s Europe and Russia. This exhibition is drawn from the Ida Kar archive, acquired by the National Portrait Gallery in 1999 and includes around 40 of her portraits.”


“A number of the artists Kar represented in the museums permanent collections, particularly artists from the St. Ives school. Selected works by them are also on display including Roger Hilton, Bryan Wynter, Terry Frost & Peter Lanyon.”

NPG x134033; Victor Musgrave; Ida Kar by Ida Kar

I personally found her portraits to be exciting, the way in  which she composes her subjects and co-ordinates the background to reflect on the subjects work and personality in inspiring. The photographs of her’s that you see featured on this post are my selected favorites from the exhibition I had seen. What I took from this is a better understanding in which the photographer must account from the communication through different aspects of the image, to crop and select carefully what is included and also what is not.

Ida Kar ~ Bridget Louise Riley, 1963