Robert Capa (1913-1954) is remembered as one of this century's greatest photojournalists. While previous exhibitions have explored his importance as a war photographer, Robert Capa: Photographs is the first true retrospective of his work, drawing upon hundreds of previously unseen images and showing him to be one of the great photographers of the 20th century. The exhibition will premiere at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where it will be on view in the Berman-Stieglitz Galleries, ground floor, from October 4, 1997 through January 4, 1998. It will then tour to other museums in North America, while a parallel exhibition is on tour throughout Europe. The exhibition has been organized by Michael E. Hoffman, Adjunct Curator of Photographs at the Museum's Alfred Stieglitz Center. Richard Whelan, biographer of Robert Capa, served as guest curator. Initial funding for the exhibition was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts.
Robert Capa: Photographs is comprised of some 130 modern gelatin silver prints of images spanning the full range of Capa's career, lent by the Robert Capa Archive at the International Center of Photography in New York, and 11 vintage prints documenting the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), drawn from the collection of Cornell Capa. These vintage prints of the images that first brought wide recognition to Capa will be complemented by an installation of 12 vintage prints by Gerda Taro (1910-1937), who fled Germany in the early 1930s and became Capa's companion and colleague beginning in 1934. Tragically, Taro was fatally injured by a tank during a July 1937 skirmish near Madrid. A portrait of Taro and Capa by photographer Fred Stein will also be featured in the Taro installation, which commemorates the 60th anniversary of her death.
Following this personal tragedy, Capa traveled to East Asia to record the Japanese invasion of China in 1938. His photographs remain the definitive visual record of the Japanese bombing of Hankou, as well as later events in the European theater of World War II, including the Allied landing on D-Day, the Liberation of Paris, and the Battle of the Bulge. He was killed by a land mine while on assignment in Indochina (now Vietnam) for Life magazine.
While they are superb examples of photojournalism at its finest, Capa's images also have a timeless, universal quality that transcends the specifics of history. Away from the front line, Capa created portraits of his many friends, including actors Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman, writer Ernest Hemingway, and artist Pablo Picasso. Many of these insightful images are shown here for the first time.
Robert Capa: Photographs is accompanied by a softcover catalogue with 161 duotone reproductions, published by Aperture in association with the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The book includes a foreword by Capa's close friend, the photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, a remembrance by Cornell Capa, the artist's younger brother and the founding director of the International Center of Photography, and a historical essay by Robert Capa's biographer, Richard Whelan.