Robert Capa 100 ExhibitPosted: May 12, 2014
ROBERT CAPA 100 is an exhibition sponsored by the Embassy of Hungary. Scheduled to be on display at ISBerne from 26-28 May, the exhibition reconstructs the life of Robert Capa through his iconic photographs and personal documents and celebrates the 100th anniversary of the greatest war photographer of all times.The following review was submitted by ISBerne student, Leone Chaillet, grade 9Robert Capa
“The Greatest War photographer in the World”
Robert Capa, the Hungarian photographer, declared by the British magazine Picture Post in 1938, at the age of 25, “The Greatest War Photographer in the World”, would have been 100 years old on October 22nd, 2013. Capa is known for his remarkably close pictures of the battlefield but also for showing the sufferance of civil victims of war, as well as their joy of peace. His motto: “If your picture is not good enough, you are not close enough” became famous and gave a reference to all photo reporters worldwide. Capa was brilliant, fun and had great courage. He loved to point out “It’s not enough to have talent, one also has to be Hungarian”. He loved poker, horse races and lived his professional and private life with a true spirit of a gambler. Capa’s life and work is well known, however, even 60 years after his death, he continues to surprise us with new things, such as the recently discovered “Mexican suitcase” containing all of his original negatives of the Spanish civil war, or the interview that the ICP made public on his 100 birthday in which he tells the story of his most famous picture of the falling soldier at the spanish civil war: he just held the camera above his head and shot the picture. The most astonishing of all are certainly his beautiful color photographs that were exhibited for the very first time at the ICP in New York.
Endre Ernö Friedmann (alias Robert Capa) was born in Budapest, (in district 5, downtown Pest) Hungary on 22 October 1913. In 1931, he got arrested by the Secret Police and was released but nevertheless forced to leave the country. His fellow Hungarian neighbour and childhood friend Eva Besnyö helped him to get a job in Berlin at the Dephot Photo Agency, that’s how his photographer’s career began. Legend says Friedmann was in love with all the Besnyö girls, they gave him the nickname Capa, shark in Hungarian. Later, he moved to Paris and there he met the love of his life Gerda Taro, a young german photographer who became his business partner, or better, his “partner-in-crime”. In 1936, they invented together “Robert Capa”, the famous and successful American photographer, under whose name Friedmann sold his photographs. Eventually was discovered, but the name and the fame stuck.
Capa covered five different wars: the Spanish Civil War; the second Sino-Japanese war; he documented across Europe W.W.II: London, Italy, in France the battle of Normandy and Omaha beach and the liberation of Paris; the Arab-Israeli war; and the first Indochina war. He became a legend, who had the biggest single impact on the profession and business of photojournalism ever. Capa, a keen skier already as a child on the Svabhegy-Hills in Budapest, never neglected his passion for the snow. From 1950 on, he lived in Paris. His best friends were John Huston, Irwin Shaw, Syd Chaplin, and Picasso. He finally enjoyed the glamorous life of Paris after so many years of war. He took regular trips and as well long vacations in Switzerland. He often visited Saint-Moritz and Gstaad. From 1939 onward, he was one of the “habitués” of Klosters. He was part of the famous Davos group of celebrities called “Hollywood on the rocks”. Capa became an American citizen only in 1946 but for communist allegations his passport was suspended in 1953. In June of the same year, he still photographed the coronation ceremony of Queen Elisabeth II in London (enjoying the great event among his friends: Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart, Irwin Shaw), but soon retired in Klosters to cure his acute back pain with intensive skiing. Capa spent his last winter in Switzerland, and he was still in Klosters in February of 1954 when a Japanese magazine invited him to work in Japan for 6 weeks. He was in Japan the end of April when LIFE magazine asked him to fill in for a reporter in Indochina. Capa immediately accepted. Unfortunately, he stepped on a land-mine on May 25 in Thai Binh, Vietnam.
His legacy was continued by his brother Cornell Capa, founder of the International Center of Photography in New York and by the Magnum Agency Capa created in 1947 with Henry Cartier-Bresson, Chim Seymour, George Rodger and William Vandivert. Capa’s spirit lives on and continues to inspire new generations of photo reporters worldwide. This commemorative exhibition for Robert Capa’s 100th anniversary has been commissioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hungary.This exhibition can be seen in ISBerne for 3 days as a courtesy of the Hungarian Embassy.Leone Chaillet, grade 9