By Javier Otazu
New York, Nov 4 (EFE).- A new exhibition in New York explores the many misunderstandings about the life and work of Robert Capa, one of history’s greatest photographers and a pioneering combat photojournalist.
The show, which will run until January 9 at the International Center of Photography, is titled Death in the Making, like Capa’s book featuring photos he took during the first year of the Spanish Civil War.
The book was reissued in 2020, edited by the curator Cynthia Young, who corrected the many mistakes in dates and facts in the first edition.
ICP’s exposition is intended to work as an extension of the new edition of the book and does not include other iconic images from Capa’s long career, a temptation that was difficult to avoid, Young told Efe.
During his time at war, Capa was not alone. He was accompanied by his colleague and lover Gerda Taro, whose name has been overshadowed by the photographer’s fame.
Another rarely known fact about the photographer: His real name was not Robert.
Gerda and Capa, who were both Jewish, decided to change their names due to the antisemitism that was common at the time.
According to Young, Taro, who came from a wealthy background, taught Capa how to dress and speak so that he could move in high society circles, while he taught her how to make photographs, something she would excel at.
Traveling alongside them was a third photographer, who also was Jewish and changed his name to Chim.
Photographs by Capa’s two partners were published in European journals and magazines at the time and eventually appeared in American publications. But their work went down in history as having been made by Capa.
Young defends the photographer’s integrity, claiming that no one can prove that he tried to steal his friend’s work.
She adds that when Capa published his first edition of the book, in 1938, he dedicated it to “Gerda Taro, who spent one year at the Spanish front. And who stayed on.”
It was a delicate way of not mentioning that Gerda was accidentally crushed by a Republican tank on the outskirts of Brunete, where in July 1937 one of the bloodiest battles of the war was taking place. She was 26-years-old.
The curator has managed to trace the authorship of almost all the photos from that period, partly because of a suitcase that appeared in Mexico in 2007 and contained thousands of negatives by Capa himself, Taro, and Chim.
For the new book and the exhibition, Young has established with certainty that of all the photos, 111 can be attributed to Capa, 24 to Taro, and 13 to Chim.
Young feels she has brought justice to Taro with this accomplishment because even though she did not enter history, she will no longer be remembered merely as Capa’s girlfriend.