War and peace photography of Robert Capa on show at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni

A celebration of a dramatic life



The words Robert Capa and “war photographer” are often linked. But an exhibition of his work at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni (18 September to 31 October) presents a more multi-faceted view of this photographer, whose most famous image remains the Goya-like shot of a Loyalist militiaman gunned down in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War (recently, doubt has been cast upon whether this image is authentic or staged). His life and death were as dramatic as his pictures. Born Endre Friedman in Hungary, he adopted the nom-de-plume of Robert Capa in 1936. In the early Thirties, he fled Hungary after taking part in student uprisings, and he later also fled Nazi Berlin. His career spanned the Spanish Civil War, World War II and the French war in Indochina, where he was killed by a landmine on the Red River. But this celebrated Life Magazine photographer and founder of Magnum photo agency, also captured quiet moments, such as a homecoming Italian soldier with a girl by his side holding a bicycle. The current exhibition of 120 photographs, organised by the Fratelli Alinari Museum of the History of Photograpy in Florence (which houses the largest historical photography collection in Italy) shows all of this but also leavens it with Capa’s photographs of his famous friends. We see Hemingway showing off a pheasant he has just shot, Picasso on the beach with Françoise Gilot, Gary Cooper fishing, Gene Kelly leaping into the air and an aged Matisse convalescing in bed. The catalogue contains texts from Cornell Capa (Robert’s brother) and Richard Welan.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'War and peace photography of Robert Capa'