Robert Capa


Openning speach by András Gerő

Born is Budapest in 1913 he left for Berlin soon after graduating from high school in 1931. To make a living, he started making pictures. The first shot that started him on his road to fame was in 1932, when he cought Trotsky on film in Copenhagen. Though the rough kick-off in his career, his 41 years of life granted him with every acknowledgment his profession offerede both in acceptance and fame. Capa became a success.

He had money and many lovers. The most famous one was undoubtedly Ingrid Bergman, the renowned Swedish movie star. And like so many others who did big, he lived on the hihg hog...

 I find it above all, extremely odd to speak at an opening of Capa exhibition. The exhibition portrays snapshots of the life of someone who has long since passed from this world.


Commissioned to do a photo shoot by Life Magazine in Vietnam in 1954, he was killed by a landmine. One could say that in a way, it was a daeth worthy for him, of his lifestyle, since even then he was known throughout the world as the best war photographer to have lived. The same photographer who amongst other things, shot the Spanisg Civil War in the 1930s. D-Day in 1944 and Israel's first war in 1948.



Some of these shots became world-known, such as the one made on September 5, 1936. The Falling Soldier.  Also garnering worldwide recognition was the shot depiciting D-Day taken in June of 1944 showing the gruesome price the American troops had to pay for reaching Omaha Beach and continental Europe. Than and there he took 106 pictures out of which 95 were destroyed due to the incopetence of a Londoner photographer assistant, but fortunately the remaining 11 have survived. The near dozen pictures depict death, the sufferings of man and all the vile of war, a later muse to Steven Spielberg when preparing the disembarking segments of Saving Private Ryan. The photos are and were simply that gripping.

Instances of Capa's immortality could be enumerated, provided that such a young genre as photography has already earned such esteem. Naturally it is not only talent that spurd us to use such an attribute, but also bravery, cool-headness and let us not forget, audacity. All of these come alive simultaneously, for example in his picture of a German admiral, the city marshal of Cherbourg. He himself has stated that when he wanted to take a picture of the admiral, the admiral turned his back to him saying to his adjunct in German that he has has enough with the cheek of the American press. To this Capa'a reply was: " And I have had enan soldiers who have had their asses kicked", in German of course. "When the General turned back angrily, I took a shot, I couldn't have asked for a better pose myself."


Talent, bravery, vagabond lifestyle and taking risk. It seems that all of these are necessary to become the world's best war photographer.

This cajolery has another aspect too, very tipical of Capa. It was in German that he teased the admiral, as he spoke that language too. He learned English and French as well, making practically the whole western hemisphere his home.

Though let us remember, that his native lenguage was Hungarian. It was only in 1936 thet he came up with the name Robert Capa with his girlfriend, Greda Taro and the inspiration of two American stars of that period, actor Robert Taylor and director Frank Capra. As a Hungarian, selling his pictures was far from easy. While living in Paris this American name was meant to pave the way for a better life. It worked. No one cared about the pictures of Endre Friedmann, but Robert Capa became a celebrity.

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