Kar, Ida (1908–1970)

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Kar, Ida (1908–1970)

Russian-born Surrealist photographer who also did portraits and documentary work. Born Ida Karamian in Tambov, Russia, in 1908; died in London, England, in 1970; educated in Paris; married Edmond Belali (a photographer), in the late 1930s (divorced); married Victor Musgrave, in 1944 (separated 1979); no children.

Born Ida Karamian in Tambov, Russia, in 1908, photographer Ida Kar spent her early years in Russia, Iran, and Egypt, although her family eventually settled in Alexandria. In 1928, her father sent her to Paris to study medicine, but Kar chose instead to study music and take up with the avant-garde. She returned to Alexandria in 1933 and worked as an assistant in a photography studio. In the late 1930s, she married photographer Edmond Belali and moved with him to Cairo, where they opened a photography studio called Idabel. They also exhibited in two Surrealist exhibitions in Cairo in 1943 and 1944. Kar subsequently divorced Belali and married Englishman Victor Musgrave, moving with him to London in 1945. There, she began photographing artists and writers, including Marc Chagall, T.S. Eliot, Eugene Ionesco, Doris Lessing , and Henry Moore. During the late 1950s, she worked as a photojournalist, creating picture stories around London for the Tatler and Observer and taking photographic junkets to Armenia, Moscow, East Germany, and Sweden. From 1963 to 1964, Kar worked exclusively for Animals magazine. In 1964, as the result of a solo exhibition at the House of Friendship in Moscow, Kar was invited to photograph the Celebration of the Cuban Revolution. Always considered somewhat eccentric, Kar reportedly grew mentally unstable during her later years. She died in London in 1970.


Rosenblum, Naomi. A History of Women Photographers. NY: Abbeville Press, 1994.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts

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