Robert Capa (born Endre Ernő Friedmann; October 22, 1913 – May 25, 1954) was a Hungarian-born American war photographer and photojournalist as well as the companion and professional partner of photographer Gerda Taro. He is considered by some to be the greatest combat and adventure photographer in history.
Endre Ernő Friedmann
October 22, 1913
|Died||May 25, 1954 (aged 40)|
|Resting place||Amawalk Hill Cemetery, New York|
|Nationality||Hungarian, American (since 1946)|
|Known for||War photography|
Capa fled political repression in Hungary when he was a teenager, moving to Berlin, where he enrolled in college. He witnessed the rise of Hitler, which led him to move to Paris, where he met and began to work with Gerta Pohorylle. Together they worked under the alias Robert Capa and became photojournalists. Though she contributed to much of the early work, she quickly created her own alias 'Gerda Taro' and they began to publish their work separately. He subsequently covered five wars: the Spanish Civil War, the Second Sino-Japanese War, World War II across Europe, the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, and the First Indochina War, with his photos published in major magazines and newspapers.
During his career he risked his life numerous times, most dramatically as the only civilian photographer landing on Omaha Beach on D-Day. He documented the course of World War II in London, North Africa, Italy, and the liberation of Paris. His friends and colleagues included Ernest Hemingway, Irwin Shaw, John Steinbeck and director John Huston.
In 1947, for his work recording World War II in pictures, U.S. general Dwight D. Eisenhower awarded Capa the Medal of Freedom. That same year, Capa co-founded Magnum Photos in Paris. The organization was the first cooperative agency for worldwide freelance photographers. Hungary has issued a stamp and a gold coin in his honor.
Capa was born Endre Ernő Friedmann to the Jewish family of Júlia (née Berkovits) and Dezső Friedmann in Budapest, Austria-Hungary on October 22, 1913. His mother, Julianna Henrietta Berkovits was a native of Nagykapos (now Veľké Kapušany, Slovakia) and Dezső Friedmann came from the Transylvanian village of Csucsa (now Ciucea, Romania). At the age of 18, he was accused of alleged communist sympathies and was forced to flee Hungary.:154
He moved to Berlin where he enrolled at Berlin University where he worked part-time as a darkroom assistant for income and then became a staff photographer for the German photographic agency, Dephot.:154 It was during that period that the Nazi Party came into power, which made Capa, a Jew, decide to leave Germany and move to Paris.:154
He became professionally involved with Gerta Pohorylle, later known as Gerda Taro, a German-Jewish photographer who had moved to Paris for the same reasons he did.:154 The two of them decided to work under the alias Capa at this time. The two of them later separated aliases and published their work independently. Capa and Taro developed a romantic relationship alongside their professional one. Capa proposed and Taro refused, but they continued their involvement. He also shared a darkroom with French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, with whom he would later co-found the Magnum Photos cooperative.:154
Spanish Civil War, 1936Edit
From 1936 to 1939, Capa worked in Spain, photographing the Spanish Civil War, along with Gerda Taro, his companion and professional photography partner, and David Seymour. Taro died when the motor vehicle on which she was travelling (apparently standing on the footboard) collided with an out-of-control tank. She had been returning from a photographic assignment covering the Battle of Brunete.
It was during that war that Capa took the photo now called "The Falling Soldier", purporting to show the death of a Republican soldier. The photo was published in magazines in France and then by Life magazine and Picture Post. The authenticity of the photo was later questioned, with evidence including other photos from the scene suggesting it was staged.[a] Picture Post, a pioneering photojournalism magazine published in the United Kingdom, had once described then twenty-five year old Capa as "the greatest war photographer in the world.":155
Capa accompanied then journalist and author Ernest Hemingway to photograph the war, which Hemingway would later describe in his novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940). Life magazine published an article about Hemingway and his time in Spain, along with numerous photos by Capa.
In December 2007, three boxes filled with rolls of film, containing 4,500 35mm negatives of the Spanish Civil War by Capa, Taro, and Chim (David Seymour), which had been considered lost since 1939, were discovered in Mexico. In 2011, Trisha Ziff directed a film about those images, entitled The Mexican Suitcase.
Chinese resistance to Imperial Japan, 1938Edit
In 1938, he traveled to the Chinese city of Hankou, now within Wuhan, to document the resistance to the Japanese invasion. He sent his images to Life magazine, which published some of them in its May 23, 1938 issue.
World War IIEdit
At the start of World War II, Capa was in New York City, having moved there from Paris to look for work, and to escape Nazi persecution. During the war, Capa was sent to various parts of the European Theatre on photography assignments. He first photographed for Collier's Weekly, before switching to Life after he was fired by Collier's. He was the only "enemy alien" photographer for the Allies. On October 7, 1943 Robert Capa was in Naples with Life reporter Will Lang Jr., and there he photographed the Naples post office bombing.
D-Day, Omaha beach, 1944Edit
A group of images known as the "The Magnificent Eleven" were taken by Capa on D-Day. Taking part in the Allied invasion, Capa was attached to the 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division ("Big Red One") on Omaha Beach. The US personnel attacking Omaha Beach faced some of the heaviest resistance from German troops inside the bunkers of the Atlantic Wall. Photographic historian A. D. Coleman has suggested that Capa traveled to the beach in the same landing craft as Colonel George A. Taylor, commander of the 16th Infantry Regiment, who landed 1½ hours after the first wave, near Colleville-sur-Mer.
Capa stated subsequently that he took 106 pictures and all but 11 were destroyed, when his cameras became waterlogged at Normandy, and/or in a subsequent photo lab accident in London. However, this narrative has been challenged by Coleman and others. In 2016, John G. Morris, who was picture editor at the London bureau of Life in 1944, agreed that it was more likely that Capa captured 11 images in total on D-Day. The 11 prints were included in Life magazine's issue on June 19, 1944, with captions written by magazine staffers, as Capa did not provide Life with notes or a verbal description of what they showed.
The captions have since been shown to be erroneous, as were subsequent descriptions of the images by Capa himself. For example, men described by Life as taking cover behind a hedgehog obstacle were members of Gap Assault Team 10 – a combined US Navy/US Army demolition unit tasked with blowing up obstacles and clearing the way for landing craft.
On April 18, 1945, Capa captured images of a fight to secure a bridge in Leipzig, Germany. These pictures included an image of Raymond J. Bowman's death by sniper fire. This image was published in a spread in Life magazine with the caption "The picture of the last man to die."
Post-war Soviet Union, 1947Edit
In 1947 Capa traveled to the Soviet Union with his friend, the American writer John Steinbeck. They originally met when they shared a room in an Algiers hotel with other war correspondents before the Allied invasion of Italy in 1943. They reconnected in New York, where Steinbeck told him he was thinking about visiting the Soviet Union, now that the war was over.
Capa suggested they go there together and collaborate on a book, with Capa documenting the war-torn nation with photographs. The trip resulted in Steinbeck's, A Russian Journal, which was published both as a book and a syndicated newspaper serial. Photos were taken in Moscow, Kiev, Tbilisi, Batumi and among the ruins of Stalingrad. They remained good friends until Capa's death; Steinbeck took the news of Capa's death very hard.
Magnum Photos agency, 1947Edit
In 1947, Capa founded the cooperative venture Magnum Photos in Paris with Henri Cartier-Bresson, William Vandivert, David Seymour, and George Rodger. It was a cooperative agency to manage work for and by freelance photographers, and developed a reputation for the excellence of its photo-journalists. In 1952, he became the president.
Founding of Israel, 1948Edit
Documenting film productions, 1953Edit
In 1953 he joined screenwriter Truman Capote and director John Huston in Italy where Capa was assigned to photograph the making of the film, Beat the Devil. During their off time they, and star Humphrey Bogart, would enjoy playing poker.
First Indochina War and death, 1954Edit
In the early 1950s, Capa traveled to Japan for an exhibition associated with Magnum Photos. While there, Life magazine asked him to go on assignment to Southeast Asia, where the French had been fighting for eight years in the First Indochina War. Although a few years earlier he had said he was finished with war, Capa accepted and accompanied a French regiment with two Time-Life journalists, John Mecklin and Jim Lucas in Thái Bình Province. On 25 May 1954, the regiment was passing through a dangerous area under fire when Capa decided to leave his Jeep and go up the road to photograph the advance. Capa was killed when he stepped on a land mine near the road.:155
He was 40 at the time of his death. He is buried in plot #189 at Amawalk Hill Cemetery (also called Friends Cemetery), Amawalk, Westchester County, New York along with his mother, Julia, and his brother, Cornell Capa.
This section needs additional citations for verification. (December 2014) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Capa was born into a Jewish family in Budapest, where his parents were tailors. At the age of 18, Capa moved to Vienna, later relocated to Prague, and finally settled in Berlin: all cities that were centers of artistic and cultural ferment in this period. He started studies in journalism at the German Political College, but the Nazi Party instituted restrictions on Jews and banned them from colleges. Capa relocated to Paris, where he adopted the name 'Robert Capa' in 1934. At that time, he had already been a hobby-photographer.
In 1934 "André Friedman", as he still called himself then, met Gerda Pohorylle, a German Jewish refugee. The couple lived in Paris where André taught Gerda photography. Together they created the name and image of "Robert Capa" as a famous American photographer, and at the beginning of the war both photographers published their work under the pseudonym of Robert Capa. Gerda took the name Gerda Taro and became successful in her own right. She travelled with Capa to Spain in 1936 intending to document the Spanish Civil War. In July 1937, Capa traveled briefly to Paris while Gerda remained in Madrid. She was killed near Brunete during a battle. Capa, who was reportedly engaged to her, was deeply shocked and never married.
In February 1943 Capa met Elaine Justin, then married to the actor John Justin. They fell in love and the relationship lasted until the end of the war. Capa spent most of his time in the frontline. Capa called the redheaded Elaine "Pinky," and wrote about her in his war memoir, Slightly Out of Focus. In 1945, Elaine Justin broke up with Capa; she later married Chuck Romine.
Some months later Capa became the lover of the actress Ingrid Bergman, who was touring in Europe to entertain American soldiers.p. 176 In December 1945, Capa followed her to Hollywood. The relationship ended in the summer of 1946 when Capa traveled to Turkey.
His younger brother, Cornell Capa, also a photographer, worked to preserve and promote Robert's legacy as well as develop his own identity and style. He founded the International Fund for Concerned Photography in 1966. To give this collection a permanent home, he founded the International Center of Photography in New York City in 1974. This was one of the foremost and most extensive conservation efforts on photography to be developed. Indeed, Capa and his brother believed strongly in the importance of photography and its preservation, much like film would later be perceived and duly treated in a similar way. The Overseas Press Club created the Robert Capa Gold Medal in the photographer's honor.
Capa is known for redefining wartime photojournalism. His work came from the trenches as opposed to the more arms-length perspective that was the precedent. He was famed for saying, "If your photographs aren't good enough, you're not close enough."
He is credited with coining the term Generation X. He used it as a title for a photo-essay about the young people reaching adulthood immediately after the Second World War. It was published in 1953 in Picture Post (UK) and Holiday (USA). Capa said, "We named this unknown generation, The Generation X, and even in our first enthusiasm we realised that we had something far bigger than our talents and pockets could cope with."
In 1947, for his work recording World War II in pictures, U.S. general Dwight D. Eisenhower awarded Capa the Medal of Freedom Citation The International Center of Photography organized a travelling exhibition titled This Is War: Robert Capa at Work, which displayed Capa's innovations as a photojournalist in the 1930s and 1940s. It includes vintage prints, contact sheets, caption sheets, handwritten observations, personal letters and original magazine layouts from the Spanish Civil War, the Second Sino-Japanese War and World War II. The exhibition appeared at the Barbican Art Gallery, the International Center of Photography of Milan, and the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya in the fall of 2009, before moving to the Nederlands Fotomuseum from October 10, 2009 until January 10, 2010.
As a young boy, Capa was drawn to the Munkakör (Employment Circle), a group of socialist and avant-garde artists, photographers, and intellectuals centered around Budapest. He participated in the demonstrations against the Miklós Horthy regime. In 1931, just before his first photo was published, Capa was arrested by the Hungarian secret police, beaten, and jailed for his radical political activity. A police official's wife—who happened to know his family—won Capa's release on the condition that he would leave Hungary immediately.
The Boston Review has described Capa as "a leftist, and a democrat—he was passionately pro-Loyalist and passionately anti-fascist ..." During the Spanish Civil War, Capa travelled with and photographed the Workers' Party of Marxist Unification (POUM), which resulted in his best-known photograph.
The British magazine Picture Post ran his photos from Spain in the 1930s accompanied by a portrait of Capa, in profile, with the simple description: "He is a passionate democrat, and he lives to take photographs."
In popular cultureEdit
- In 2013, the Japanese Female Musical Theater group, Takarazuka Revue, produced a musical piece based on the life of Capa. Ms. Ouki Kaname performed the lead role as Capa. The group performed the musical in 2012 in Takarazuka and Tokyo and in 2014 in Nagoya.
- In Patrick Modiano's novella Afterimage Capa is a mentor for the subject of the novella, Francis Jansen, a photographer who retires to Mexico.
- In Alfred Hitchcock's movie Rear Window, the protagonist L. B. "Jeff" Jefferies (James Stewart) was partly based on Capa.
- Poet Owen Sheers wrote a poem about Capa, named Happy Accidents. It can be found in the anthology Skirrid Hill.
- In English indie rock group Alt-J's 2012 album An Awesome Wave, the love between Capa and Taro, and the circumstances of his death are described in the last track, Taro
- The Austrian rock singer Falco wrote the song "Kamikaze Cappa" in tribute to Capa.
Publications by CapaEdit
- The Battle of Waterloo Road. New York: Random House, 1941. OCLC 654774055. Photographs by Capa. With a text by Diana Forbes-Robertson.
- Invasion!. New York, London: D. Appleton-Century, 1944. OCLC 1022382. Photographs by Capa. With text by Charles Wertenbaker.
- Slightly Out of Focus. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1947. New York: Modern Library, 2001. ISBN 9780375753961. Text and photographs by Capa. With a foreword by Cornell Capa and an introduction by Richard Whelan. A memoir.
- Images of War. New York: Grossman, 1964. Text and photographs by Capa. OCLC 284771. With a text by John Steinbeck.
- Robert Capa: Photographs. New York: Aperture, 1996. ISBN 978-0893816759. New York: Aperture, 2004.
- Heart of Spain: Robert Capa's Photographs of the Spanish Civil War. New York: Aperture, 1999. ISBN 9780893818319. New York: Aperture, 2005. ISBN 978-1931788021.
- Robert Capa: The Definitive Collection. London, New York: Phaidon, 2001. ISBN 9780714840673. London, New York: Phaidon, 2004. ISBN 978-0714844497. Edited by Richard Whelan.
- Robert Capa at Work: This is War!. Göttingen: Steidl, 2009. ISBN 9783865219442. Photographs by Capa. With a foreword by Willis E. Hartshorn, an introduction by Christopher Phillips, and text by Richard Whelan. Published to accompany an exhibition at the International Center of Photography, New York, September 2007 – January 2008. "A detailed examination of six of Robert Capa's most important war reportages from the first half of his career: the Falling Soldier (1936), Chinese resistance to the Japanese invasion (1938), the end of the Spanish Civil War in Catalonia (1938–39), D-Day, the US paratroop invasion of Germany and the liberation of Leipzig (1945)."
Publications with othersEdit
- Death in the Making. New York: Covici Friede, 1938. Photographs by Capa and Taro.
- A Russian Journal. New York: Viking, 1948. Text by John Steinbeck, illustrated with photographs by Capa.
- Report on Israel. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1950. By Irwin Shaw and Capa.
Publications about CapaEdit
- Robert Capa: a Biography. New York: Knopf, 1985. By Richard Whelan. ISBN 0-394-52488-8.
- Blood and Champagne: The Life and Times of Robert Capa. Macmillan, 2002; Thomas Dunne, 2003; ISBN 978-0312315641. Da Capo Press, 2004; ISBN 978-0306813566. By Alex Kershaw.
- La foto de Capa. Córdoba: Paso de Cebra Ediciones, 2011. A fictionalised account of the discovery of the exact location of the "Falling Soldier" photograph. ISBN 978-84-939103-0-3.
- Nizza oder die Liebe zur Kunst. Bad König: Vantage Point World, 2013. By Axel Dielmann. ISBN 978-3-981-53549-5. Text in German.
- "Capa, Robert". Archived from the original on October 6, 2011. Retrieved February 18, 2009.
- Kershaw, Alex. Blood and Champagne: The Life and Times of Robert Capa, Macmillan (2002) ISBN 978-0306813566
- Hudson, Berkley (2009). Sterling, Christopher H. (ed.). Encyclopedia of Journalism. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: SAGE. pp. 1060–67. ISBN 978-0-7619-2957-4.
- Davenport, Alma. The History of Photography: An Overview, Univ. of New Mexico Press (1991)
- "Photo of Gerda Taro". zakhor-online.com. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
- "Dramatic story of 1930s pioneer Gerda Taro, the first female photographer to die in battle, brought to life in new book", Daily Mail, November 5, 2013
- "Robert Capa’s Longest Day", Vanity Fair, June 2014
- Linfield, Boston Review
- "New Works by Photography’s Old Masters", New York Times, April 30, 2009
- Ingledew, John. Photography, Laurence King Publishing (2005) p. 184
- Richard Whelan, Proving that Robert Capa's Falling Soldier is Genuine: a Detective Story, American Masters, PBS Website.
- "Iconic Capa war photo was stage: newspaper" Archived July 20, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, AFP
- "Faking Soldier: The photographic evidence that Capa's camera DOES lie... and that his iconic 'Falling Soldier' was staged", Daily Mail
- "Photo of Capa (far left) with Hemingway (far right) in Spain". wordpress.com. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
- "Life Documents Hemingway's New Novel with War Shots", Life magazine, January 6, 1941
- The212BERLIN (August 4, 2011). "The Mexican Suitcase trailer". Retrieved April 1, 2018 – via YouTube.
- "The Capa Cache", New York Times, January 27, 2008
- "THE MEXICAN SUITCASE, Rediscovered Spanish Civil War Negatives by Capa, Chim, and Taro", International Center of Photography
- "Photo of the Spanish Civil War". icp.org. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
- "The Fascinating Story of The Mexican Suitcase", ORMS
- "Meet the DocuWeeks Filmmakers: Trisha Ziff--'The Mexican Suitcase'". Documentary (August, 2011). International Documentary Association. Retrieved January 16, 2016.
- George Stevens Jr., "Robert Capa: A Photographer at War", Washington Post, September 29, 1985
- Stephen R. MacKinnon includes photographs by Robert Capa, in Wuhan, 1938: War, Refugees, and the Making of Modern China (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008).
- Capa photos of the Chinese resistance, Life, May 23, 1938
- Brenner, Marie. "War Photographer Robert Capa and his Coverage of D-day". Vanity Fair. Retrieved November 21, 2017.
- Slightly Out of Focus, Henry Holt and Company, New York, 1947, p.104
- "Photo by Capa on D-Day". pinimg.com. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
- D-Day, National WWII Museum
- Jay (December 2, 2012). "The Reel Foto: Robert Capa: 20th Century War Photographer". reelfoto.blogspot.com. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
- Coleman, A. D. (February 12, 2019). "Alternate History: Robert Capa on D-Day". exposure magazine. Society for Photographic Education. Retrieved February 18, 2019.
- Simon Kuper, "Interview: John Morris on his friend Robert Capa", Financial Times, May 31, 2013. Retrieved June 1, 2013.
- Coleman, A. D. (February 12, 2019). "Alternate History: Robert Capa on D-Day". exposure magazine. Society for Photographic Education. Retrieved February 18, 2019.
- Estrin, James (December 6, 2016). "As He Turns 100, John Morris Recalls a Century in Photojournalism". Lens Blog. New York Times. Retrieved February 18, 2019.
- "Life magazine story with Capa's images". slightly-out-of-focus.com. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
- Lt.(jg) H. L. Blackwell, Jr. REPORT ON NAVAL COMBAT DEMOLITION UNITS [NCDUs IN OPERATION "NEPTUNE" as part of TASK FORCE 122 (5 July, 1944)] (19 February 2019).
- "Bowman, Raymond J." ww2awards.com. Retrieved April 23, 2016.
- Railsback, Brian E., Meyer, Michael J. A John Steinbeck Encyclopedia, Greenwood Publishing Group (2006) p. 50
- "Photo of John Steinbeck and Robert Capa boarding a plane for the USSR, 1947". phaidon.com. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
- Photo of Stalingrad, taken by Capa
- "Photo of Tiflis, Georgia, 1947". pinimg.com. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
- "Photo of Georgian farmworkers". agenda.ge. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
- "Photo of Capa and Steinbeck". pinimg.com. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
- "Robert Capa's Road to Jerusalem", Jewish Review of Books, Winter 2016
- "Robert Capa Remembered", Independent UK, October 12, 1996
- "Photo of Capa, John Huston and Burl Ives". pinimg.com. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
- "Robert Capa Photo Gallery". gettyimages.com. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
- Aronson, Marc; Budhos, Marina (2017). Eyes of the World Robert Capa, Gerda Taro, and the Invention of Modern Photojournalism. Macmillan Publising Group, LLC. ISBN 9780805098358.
- Badenbroek, Michael. "Robert Capa – war photographer". army-photographer.com. Archived from the original on May 4, 2016. Retrieved April 28, 2016.
- "Robert Capa" Archived April 25, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, Jewish History, Hungary
- "Gerda Taro, Robert Capa y los peligros de firmar con un seudónimo masculino". eldiario.es (in Spanish). Retrieved January 23, 2018.
- Marton, Kati (2006). The Great Escape: Nine Jews Who Fled Hitler and Changed the World. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-7432-6115-9. LCCN 2006049162. OCLC 70864519.
- "Magyar Posta Ltd. - 2013". Magyar Posta Zrt. Retrieved December 3, 2018.
- "Photo of Hungarian gold coin dedicated to Capa". coin-currency.com. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
- Overseas Press Club of America, Awards Archive. Archived November 5, 2007, at Archive.today
- "Robert Capa". Magnum Photos. Archived from the original on April 15, 2012.
- Ulrich, John (November 1, 2003). "Introduction: A (Sub)cultural Genealogy". In Andrea L. Harris (ed.). GenXegesis: Essays on Alternative Youth. p. 3. ISBN 9780879728625.
- Travelling exhibitions: This Is War! Robert Capa at Work Archived May 4, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, International Center of Photography
- Belton, John (2000). Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window (PDF). Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. p. 5. ISBN 0-521-56423-9.
- "Rock Me, Falco". www.metafilter.com. Retrieved November 21, 2017.
- Capa, Robert; Whelan, Richard; International Center of Photography (April 1, 2018). "Robert Capa at work: this is war!". Steidl ; Thames & Hudson [distributor. Retrieved April 1, 2018 – via Open WorldCat.
- Whelan, Richard; International Center of Photography (April 1, 2018). "Questa e la Guerra!: Robert Capa al lavoro". International Center of Photography : Two Contrast. Retrieved April 1, 2018 – via Open WorldCat.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Robert Capa|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Robert Capa.|
- Robert Capa's Photography Portfolio — Magnum Photos
- Magnum Photos
- PBS biography and analysis of Falling Soldier authenticity
- Discussion on the authenticity of Capa's "Fallen Republican Soldier" Does it matter if it was faked?
- Robert Capa's "Lost Negatives"
- Photography Temple. “Photographer Robert Capa”
- The woman who captured Robert Capa's heart, The Independent, 13 June 2010
- Driven to Shoot on the Frontlines, The Japan Times, 14 February 2014