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Martha Graham

Martha Graham
Usage Conditions Apply
Yousuf Karsh, 23 Dec 1908 - 13 Jul 2002
Martha Graham, 11 May 1894 - 1 Apr 1991
Gelatin silver print
Image: 28 × 21.6 cm (11 × 8 1/2")
Sheet: 35.5 × 27.5 cm (14 × 10 13/16")
Mount: 40.7 × 33 cm (16 × 13")
Mat (Karsh exhibit): 55.9 × 40.6 cm (22 × 16")
Martha Graham: Female
Martha Graham: Performing Arts\Performer\Dancer
Martha Graham: Performing Arts\Choreographer
Martha Graham: Performing Arts\Dance Instructor
Martha Graham: Presidential Medal of Freedom
United States\New York\Kings\New York
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Estrellita Karsh in memory of Yousuf Karsh
Restrictions & Rights
Usage conditions apply
© Estate of Yousuf Karsh
Object number
Exhibition Label
A seminal figure in the evolution of modern American dance, Martha Graham rejected
literal imagery in favor of abstraction, and introduced powerful new forms of expressive movement filled with tension and emotion. In a quest to give “visible substance to things felt,” Graham created more than 180 works, including the groundbreaking Lamentation (1930), in which the dancer—encased in a tube of stretchable fabric—sought to embody grief itself through dramatic, angular gestures. Equally memorable was Graham’s Appalachian Spring (1944), choreographed to music created expressly for her by Aaron Copland. As founder and director of the Martha Graham Dance Company, Graham also trained the next wave of modern dancers, choreographers, and teachers, among them Merce Cunningham and Paul Taylor.
When posing for Karsh’s camera, Graham was seated on a stool in her low-ceilinged New York apartment but “seemed to be dancing as if she had the space of a great stage around her.”
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery