Robert Capa (Hungarian, 1913–1954) was a Hungarian photographer who photographed five wars over the course of his lifetime and redefined the genre of photojournalism. Capa was born Endre Friedmann to Jewish parents in Budapest in 1913. At the age of 18, he left Hungary in search of work and in the early 1930s, he adopted the moniker “Robert Capa” because he believed it would be easier to sell his work with a more American-sounding name. Between 1936 and 1939, Capa worked as a photographer in Spain during the Spanish Civil War with fellow photojournalist David Seymour (Polish, 1911–1956).

Over the next several decades, Capa covered World War II, the Second Sino-Japanese War, the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and the First Indochina War. Perhaps his most well-known image, The Magnificent Elevent, was taken during the D-Day invasion of Omaha beach. Capa also traveled to the Soviety Union with American writer John Steinbeck, and his photos were included in Steinbeck’s book A Russian Journal.

In 1947, Capa co-founded Magnum Photos in Paris with Seymour, Henri Cartier-Bresson (French, 1908–2004), and George Rodger (British, 1908–1995).

In the 1950s, during a period of intense fighting in the Indochina War, Capa was asked to go on assignment to Southeast Asia for Life magazine. Capa was killed by a landmine after leaving his Jeep to take a photograph. He is buried in Westchester, NY.

Timeline

1913
Born Andre Friedmann to Jewish parents in Budapest, Hungary
1931–1933
Studied Political Science, Deutsche Hochschule für Politik, Berlin, Germany
1933
Driven out of the country by the threat of a Nazi regime, he settled in Paris, France
1938
Capa travelled to China and emigrated to New York, USA a year later
1947
Capa founded Magnum Photos with Henri Cartier-Bresson, David Seymour, George Rodger, and William Vandivert
1954
Awarded the Croix de Guerre (War Cross) with Palm from the French Army (posthumously)
1954
Died while photographing for Life Magazine in Thai-Binh, Indochina, where he stepped on a landmine
1955
The Robert Capa Gold Medal Award was established to reward exceptional professional merit

Exhibitions

2005–2006
Retrospective, Galerie Am Tunnel, Luxembourg, Luxembourg; Nobel Peace Center, Oslo, Norway; Kunsthalle, Fellbach, Germany
2004–2005
Robert Capa connu et inconnu, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris, France; Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin, Germany
2002
Israel, Musée d'art et d'histoire du Judaïsme, Paris, France
Slightly out of focus, Daimaru Museum, Tokyo, Japan
1999
Heart of Spain: Capa's Photographs of the Spanish Civil War, Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain
1997
Robert Capa: A Retrospective, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, USA
1995
Capa's life, Tokyo Fuji Art Museum, Mitsukoshi, Tokyo, Japan
1991
Robert Capa: A Retrospective, Sala de Exposiciones de la Disputacion, Burgos, Spain; Circulo de Bella Artes, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain; Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas, Venezuela
Children of War, Children of Peace, International Center of Photography, New York, USA
1990
Capa and Capa (with Cornell Capa), Mitsukoshi, Tokyo, Japan
1985
Robert Capa: Photographs, International Center of Photography, New York, USA
1976
Capa: emlèkkiàllilàs, Budapest Mücsarnok, Budapest, Hungary
1964
Images of War, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.
1960
Robert Capa: War Photographs, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.
1952
On Picasso (with Gjon Mili), Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA

Literature

2001
Robert Capa Connu et Inconnu - BNF éditions, Paris, France
2001
Robert Capa: The Definitive Collection - Phaidon Press Ltd, UK; (La Collection) Phaidon Press, France
1996–2001
Robert Capa: Photographs - Aperture, USA; (Robert Capa: Photographies) Editions Nathan, Paris
1999
Heart of Spain - Aperture, USA
1991
Children of War, Children of Peace - Bulfinch Press, USA
1990
Capa & Capa: Brothers in Photography - International Center of Photography, USA
1988
Robert Capa: Photographs from Israel - The Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel
1985
Robert Capa: Photographs - Alfred A. Knopf, USA; (Robert Capa Photographe) Sylvie Messinger, France; Art&, Italy
1985
Robert Capa: A Biography (by Richard Whelan) - Alfred A. Knopf, USA; Mazarine, France
1974
Robert Capa 1913-1954 - Grossman Publishers, USA
1964–1965
Images of War - Grossman Publishers, USA; (Images de guerre) Hachette, France
1950
Report on Israel - Simon and Schuster, Inc, USA
1948
A Russian journal - Viking Press, USA
1947
Slightly Out of Focus - Henry Holt & Co, USA (reprint: Modern Library, USA, 1999; Contrasto, Italy 2002; Delpire, France 2003)
1944
Invasion! - D. Appleton Century Co, USA
1938
Death in the Making (with Gerda Taro) - Covici Friede, USA