01. Ernest Hemingway by Yousuf Karsh, 1957. Gelatin silver print.

02. Audrey Hepburn by Yousuf Karsh, 1956. Gelatin silver print.

Yousuf Karsh (1908 – 2002) was a Canadian photographer of Armenian heritage, and one of the most famous and accomplished portrait photographers of all time.

This may come as a shock to you, but I can’t stand Audrey Hepburn. Namely, I can’t stand her “Butch, I want a potbelly” voice. Or her long clothespin nose, which I think ought to be more aquiline if it is to work. Or her cropped chin. Or the palpable hysteria swimming in her large, black eyes. Or her flat and disingenuous acting, which she only got away with because it made men feel protective and women feel jealous. Or, the fact that her image is forever associated with Truman Capote’s superb book Breakfast at Tiffany’s, which in reality was about a much more cynical and destructive persona, and not a loveable Hollywood gamine. I hate that she stands for a certain kind of permissible feminine weakness. As much as I’m a youthful narcissist, and therefore, a stickler for a strong brow and a strong nose, I much more prefer women who exude heartiness and strength of character too—women like Irene Papas and Anouk Aimee. It’s my single most masculine trait—I am intimately attuned to and repulsed by all forms of histrionic behavior and sexual provocation, especially those masquerading as naivete. It’s much easier to get on with a bawdy slut—at least both parties know the score.

The only thing I suppose I like about her is her style, but having style is the lowest common denominator after having sex, so totally not impressive.

Perhaps, part of it is that she reminds me of the worst Armenian phenotype—that small ratty kind with the squat, chiseled jawline and greedy fingers, big eyes being her only redeeming feature and the one people usually use to justify overlooking all the other discernible flaws. But, anyway, that’s strictly a taste issue.

And, on that note, I also can’t stand Hemingway, as much for his meticulous pedantry as for his female heroines—all of whom are as nutty and provocative as Audrey Hepburn characters. But, I have to say, Karsh really succeeds in bringing out the best in them.

See what I mean?

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