The work of one of the most important portrait photographers of the 20th century, Yousuf Karsh, will be featured at Haynes Galleries, 91 Main St./Route 1. The public is invited to an opening reception Friday, Sept. 3 from 6 to 9 p.m. Both the exhibit, which will run through Oct. 1, and the reception are open to the public free of charge.

Best known for an iconic portrait of a grumpy Winston Churchill, Karsh’s photography exemplifies a remarkable talent for capturing not only an intimate moment with the subject, but also the essence of a personality.

“There is a brief moment when all there is in a mans mind and soul and spirit is reflected¬† through his eyes, his hands, his attitude. This is the moment to record,” he said.

The Churchill photograph catapulted the young artist into international fame when it was published in Life magazine and since has become one of the most widely reproduced photographs of all times. Karsh photographed hundreds of influential and famous people during his lifetime. Important 20th-century figures, artists, athletes, thinkers, writers, philosophers, musicians, actors and composers were said to be “Karshed,” which meant that they had reached celebrity status.

Karsh is known to have carefully researched each sitter as part of his “homework” before each photography session. He felt it necessary to know about each of his sitters to help him better understand them. Amused that he did not always have a clear understanding of his research results, Karsh mused that during his research on Ernest Hemingway, he inquired about the writer’s preferred drink with a his favorite Havana eating establishment. The following morning when Hemingway asked Karsh if he would like something to drink, Karsh requested the writer’s favorite drink, a daiquiri. To that, Hemingway remonstrated “at this hour of the day!”

Although a master at studio lighting, Karsh often went on site to photograph his sitters. When Pablo Picasso told Karsh to meet him at his ceramic gallery, Picasso’s ceramic dealer told him not to expect the artist to show up. Karsh commented that the “old lion” not only kept his appointment but wore a new shirt. Picasso moved instinctively into position next to a vase, and Karsh snapped the photograph.

Artist Joan Miro was described as looking like a banker on holiday when he arrived for his photo shoot. Karsh said that it was only when he suggested the painter don his work clothes that the artist’s playful expressions, captured in the photo, appeared.

Karsh became an artistic icon during his life and truly remains as one of the most influential artists of all time. He went on to win numerous awards and publish 15 books of his work. His photographs can be found in such collections as the Art Institute of Chicago, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the International Museum of Photography. In 2000, Karsh was named as one of the 100 most notable people of the century by the International Who’s Who.

Haynes’ “KARSH” exhibit features 15 large-scale portraits as well as vintage photographs by the artist. Included are portraits of artists Pablo Picasso, Georgia O’Keeffe, Joan Miro, and Marc Chagall; Finnish composer Jean Sibelius; and Spanish cellist Pablo Casals. Some of the greatest thinkers of the 20th Century such as Albert Einstein, Albert Schweitzer, Helen Keller with Polly Thompson, and Jacques Cousteau; and writers Ernest Hemingway, George Bernard Shaw and Robert Frost also are included in the exhibit, as is “The Greatest” himself, Muhammad Ali.

Gallery hours are Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays by appointment or by chance. For more information about this exhibit or to schedule a private viewing, visit haynesgalleries.com.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail to dernest@villagesoup.com.