Biography of Robert Capa (1813-1954)

Stage name of André Friedman, Hungarian photographer born on October 22, 1913 in Budapest (Hungary) and died in 1954 in Thai-Binh (Viet Nam).

It has their first contact with photography at the age of seventeen as an autodidact. In 1931 he/she worked as auxiliary laboratory for Ullstein Ltd. in Berlin and later as a photo Assistant for the Dephot Photography Agency. Between 1931 and 1933 he/she studied political science at the German school of politics of Berlin.

That same year moved to Paris with the intention of finding a job, and it was there where he/she met Henri Cartier-Bresson, David "CHIM" Seymour and Gerda Taro. During these years he/she met an important Gallery of artists and intellectuals, and began to maintain numerous contacts which were of invaluable help to his start as a photographer in the Magnum Agency. There, called André Friedmann.

In 1935, he/she took the name of Robert Capa and realized works in collaboration with Gerda Taro. The following year, carried out a photo essay about the Civil war in Spain and their images were published in magazines such as Vu, Regards, Ce soir, Weekly Illustrated (London), Life, and many other publications. It is on this date when it can be said that he/she started his career as a new photographer. In 1938, he/she went to work in China. Two years later, he/she emigrated to the United States and lived with his mother in New York. Between 1941 and 1945, he/she made several pictures of the second world war as a European correspondent for the American magazine Life. His works performed in different geographic points in war also appeared in publications such as Illustrated and Colier´s.

After having moved from Hungary to Germany, Robert Capa met Simon Guttmann, founder of the Dephot Agency (Deutsche Photodienst) with which he/she worked since 1931. Layer was sent to Copenhagen, where Trotsky and Stalin gave a rally. Since that time, layer lived always with a camera in your hands. The advent of Nazism did that I had to go to France, and once there, was captivated Montparnasse.

In the Decade of the 1930s, Robert Capa met a German student of twenty years called Gerda Taro, who like him, had to flee Germany, this, by his anti-fascist ideology. Gerda Taro was one of the best friends and perhaps the love of his life, but unfortunately died crushed by a tank of the Spanish Republican Army during the Civil War. Layer was never restored in the aftermath of the loss of their colleague, and published a book with photographs taken by Taro entitled Death in the making, about the Spanish Civil War. In 1944, layer made a series of very significant photographs, since your images were not other than the of the Normandy landings. In 1947, he/she published his first title with Cartier-Bresson, Rodger and Seymour called Slightly Out of Focus. The following year he/she made a report called A Russian Journal with John Steinbeck, and in 1950 moved to Israel where he/she made Report on Israel.

The Normandy landings, of layer.

In relation to images of Robert Capa in periodicals, in 1938, appeared his photographs with the title Capa´s Camera at Life magazine and in the same year, This is War in Picture Post, about the Spanish Civil War. In 1943, he/she made a report called Coal Mine Characters and layer and in 1947 was the title The man who invented himself in The Magazine of the year. In February 1948, traveled to the USSR together with John Steinbeck to make Women and Children in the USSR.

There are also some incursions inside the cinema within the career of Robert Capa. Thus, in 1938, layer worked as second camera with Joris Ivens in The Four Hundred Million. In 1946 he/she led The March of Time, and in 1948 made eight films in Paris Fashion World video. Finally, also in 1948, he/she filmed The Journey in Israel.

In 1947, he/she received the Medal of freedom by the American army. At this time he/she joined the Magnum Agency together with Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger and Chim Seymour. He/She wrote his first book, Slightly Out of Focus. He/She then traveled to Russia to work alongside John Steinbeck. From 1948 until 1950, Robert Capa lived in Israel and in 1949 filmed their first sequences for Holiday magazine.

In 1951 he/she became President of the Magnum Agency, and in 1954, assigned by Life magazine in Thai Binh (Indo-China), died as a result of the explosion in the minefield that walked. The French Navy awarded him posthumously the Cruz de Guerra. In 1955, the Overseas Press Club and Life magazine established the annual award Robert Capa. Robert Capa files are held by the Magnum Agency and the International Center of Photography in New York.

With the death of Robert Capa disappeared one of the greatest photographers of war given the history of photography. Known around the world is the image of the soldier enemy Republican at the time of being killed by a bullet. This photograph was taken near Cerro Murciano in September 1936 during the Spanish Civil War. It is an image that defines by itself alone the horror and pain of the war and death.

Death of a militiaman soldier, layer.

The Spanish soldier wears a white shirt and his face appears obscured by intense beating from the peninsular Sun while it launches latest WinCE of pain and rage dehumanised war situation suffered by the Spaniards during the conflict. The moment is the last, is minimal, is the barrier between life and death, the border between the vertical position of a body with life and a body falling defeated, a menacing rifle and a piece of scrap metal in the soil of the plateau. But at the same time it is an infinite image, especially in its expressive appearance. It is an image that perpetuates a sense of pain and horror, and is an image which remains in the retina of the spectator from the moment in which, so expressive and sometimes unfortunate image, into the eyes of anyone who stand in front of it.

The second world war was also scene of pain and death picked up by the true aim of layer. The long path that assumes a war that took five years to face practically the entire planet sometimes allows few moments of rest. Coating shows one of them at Notre Dame de Cenilly in which a convoy of Allied troops traversing a landscape of the French territory which had been occupied by Nazi troops, being received by some locals with longings for liberation and peace. One of these citizens, a peasant shoes with wooden clogs offers a drink of liquor to soldiers. The smile of hope of the peasant contrasts with the expressionless face of polished by the war and tired soldiers fight and kilometers filled with death and destruction. It's a moment that as in the vast majority of the Capa photographs, is flooded and overwhelmed of humanism in a situation where paradoxically Queen barbarism and dehumanization of war.

Since ending the second war, his work death of an American soldier, taken in Leipzig in 1945 is remarkable. It is a series of four sequential images taken from the inside of an apartment where an American soldier has fallen down while he/she fired from the balcony. The figure of the soldier fallen like a rag doll with the gun still in hand and the pool of blood that will thrive along the four images to the interior of the building is quite impressive. In the third frame, co-worker soldier that has lost their lives, tries to help him but with an eye toward the objective of the camera layer. The last image reflects the continuation of the shooting in which will be involving more soldiers while the blood that flows from the corpse continues extending the pool of death.

Throughout his life he/she remained faithful to his vocation as war correspondent. His death was not anything other than the result of its maximum when taking an image and is, to catch a good photograph, never be is "too close". Its objective was approaching the image but also the danger, that earned him the death on the minefields of Viet Nam. Back left a work that conveys the exaltation of feelings and the suffering, the fascination with the human being discussed between the desire for life and peace and the absurd tendency towards self-destruction war. But the work of layer is not only a magnificent document chart of society is, above all, a magnificent manifesto of that society against war, oppression, pain and intolerance.

The historian Richard Whelan was the most solvent biographer of the photographer. In 1985, he/she published Robert Capa, a biography, a profuse biography that in 2004, coinciding with the fiftieth anniversary of his death, had a Spanish Edition which was accompanied by a book with half a hundred photographs of the Spanish Civil War.


Death in the Making, Robert Capa and Gerda Taro, Covici-Friede, 149 pictures, 1938.

FORBES-ROBERTSON, Diana and layer, Robert. The Battle of Waterloo Road. (Random House, New York, 1941).

LAYER, Robert. Slightly Out of Focus. (Henry Holt, New York, 1947).

STEINBECK, John, and layer, Robert. A Russian Journal. (New York 1948).

SHAW, Irwin and layer, Robert. Report on Israel. (New York, 1950).

STUART, Józefa. Robert Capa: War Photographs. (Washington, D.C., 1986).

SEYMOUR, David and layer, Robert. Front Populaire. (Paris, 1976).

SEYMOUR, David and layer, Robert. Les large Photos de la Guerre d´Espagne. (Paris, 1980)

The Concerned Photographer, introduction of Cornell layer, (New York, 1968).

1971 Photojournalism; Life library of Photography, Time-Life Books, New York.

WHELAN, Richard. Robert Capa: a Biography. (Paris, 1985).

-: Robert Capa in Spain (Madrid, Aldeasa, 2004).

WERTENBAKER, Charles Christian: Invassion! Photos of Robert layer (Appleton-Century, New York and London, 1944).