Sunday, January 27, 2008

Capa and Taro

Robert Capa's war photographs are legendary. He has been the subject of much biographical writing and his photographs have been endlessly analyzed and appreciated. A Google image search turns up many gems. He has other photographic creds as well. Take for example this famous shot of Pablo Picasso and Françoise Gilot, taken in 1948.

Today, the New York Times reports on the recovery of many Capa negatives from his time as a partisan in the Spanish Civil War: The Capa Cache, by Randy Kennedy.

The article points out that Capa's companion Gerda Taro was an equally accomplished photojournalist during the mid-1930s. Like his, her life was full of action and as much at risk as the soldiers whom she photographed. Unlike his, her luck ran out all too quickly. She died in an accident leaving a battlefield in 1937. She had hitched a ride on a car by jumping onto its running board and died when a tank accidentally collided with the car.

The Times reproduces some of the best war photos of Capa-Taro in a slide show here.

Not long ago, a photojournalism magazine, The Digital Journalist, did a nice piece on the couple: Capa and Taro: Together at Last.

Here are some images from the article:

GERDA TARO: Republican militiawomen training on the beach outside Barcelona, Spain. August 1936.

ROBERT CAPA: Gerda Taro and soldier, Córdoba front, Spain. 1936.

GERDA TARO: Republican dinamiteros, Carabanchel neighborhood of Madrid, Spain. June 1937.

FRED STEIN: Gerda Taro and Robert Capa, Paris. 1935.

[Photographer Unknown]: GERDA TARO, Guadalajara front, Spain. July 1937.

GERDA TARO: Robert Capa, Segovia front, Spain. Late May-early June 1937.

[Unidentified Photographer]: Robert Capa holding his 35mm Contax on a Japanese tank captured at the Battle of Tai'erzhuang, Xuzhou Front, China. April 1938.

Here's a photo showing the Contax camera Capa used; click to view full size:

And a photo of the Leica 3f that Taro sometimes used (she also used a Rolleiflex):

Taro was born the same year my father was. He bought a very similar Leica during a trip to Germany in the early 1930s. As you can tell from her biography, his comfortable middle-class Manhattan life could hardly have been more different from her life as a left-wing militant in central- and western-Europe during that tumultuous time.

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