Ida Kar self-portrait
by Ida Kar
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.
See this exhibition for free – become a Member
Visit From Your Armchair
Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize
An online exhibition celebrating the very best in contemporary portrait photography.
Explore our community photography project, which presents a personal record of the UK during lockdown.
Sculptures in 360°
See sculptures and fascinating objects from our Collection from all angles.
David Hockney: Drawing from Life
Watch highlights from our special exhibition, which had to close early in March 2020 due to lockdown.