Robert Capa

1913-1954

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Who is Robert Capa?

Robert Capa is a photographer and photojournalist of Jewish origin. He is best known for photographing and documenting parts of the Second World War in North Africa, England and Italy. His photographs, such as those taken during the Spanish Civil War and the 1944 assault on Normandy, depict the violence of conflict with particular impact.

Status, price and valuation of the photographer Robert Capa

Auction prices for the artist’s photographs: 200 – 120,000 €.

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The beginnings of photojournalism

While in Berlin, Capa worked as a darkroom assistant at Dephot, one of Germany’s leading photojournalism companies. The agency was popular at the time for its use of state-of-the-art cameras and fast film that allowed photographers to take pictures even in the dark. With such advances, the photographer could concentrate on human events and move away from the rows of diplomats that characterised news photography. Capa succeeded in mastering these cameras and was given small photographic assignments by the agency. His first assignment was in Copenhagen, where he was sent to photograph Leon Trotsky. With the rise of Hitler in 1933, Robert finally moved to Paris, but found it difficult to find work. It was at this time that he adopted the name “Robert Capa”.

A vocation that would cost him his life

In 1936, Capa travelled to Spain with his friend Gerda Taro to photograph the horrors of the civil war there. His image of a badly wounded soldier made him popular. In 1937, Gerda Taro was assassinated by a tank in Spain, she was only 26 years old. From then on, Capa went to China and immigrated to the United States a year later. At the beginning of the Second World War, Capa was in New York. The war took him to various parts of the European theatres of conflict on photographic assignments. He first worked for Collier’s Weekly before moving to Life in 1943. His most famous work came in 1944, when he swam to Omaha Beach. He took more than 100 photographs in the early hours of the landings. However, a Life staff member accidentally melted the film. Only 11 negatives were recovered, all of which became iconic images of D-Day. The series of photographs was entitled The Magnificent Eleven.

In 1947, he left for the Soviet Union. He took photographs in Moscow, Tbilisi, Kiev and Batumi. That same year, Robert, along with William Vandivert, Henri Cartier-Bresson, David Seymour and George Rodger, founded Magnum Photos. In 1950, Robert was called back by Life to replace a photographer on assignment in Indochina. He accepted the assignment but never returned, dying on 25 May 1954 at the age of 40 after stepping on a landmine while photographing for the magazine.

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