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'Robert Capa' by Bernard Lebrun and Michel Lefebvre
Olivier Barrot tells us more about "Robert Capa" by Bernard Lebrun and Michel Lefebvre, a look at the extraordinary life of the photographer.
He is a legend in his own right. The Hungarian-Jewish photographer, who was born Endre Ernö Friedmann in Budapest in 1913, flies first to Berlin then to France when Hitler comes to power. In Paris, in partnership with his friends and colleagues David Seymour and Henri Cartier Bresson, he starts the soon-to-be-famous Magnum Agency, changes his name to André Friedmann and works for prominent French papers and magazines like "Ce Soir" and "Vu". In Montparnasse, his charm, his talent and his cheerfulness combine to make him a celebrity among local artists, would-be-painters, reporters, heavy drinkers and womanisers.
In 1934, he and Gerda Taro, another Hungarian-born photographer and a lifelong love interest, forge a new new name: from now on, the star war-correspondent-to-be becomes "Robert Capa". These are the enthusiastic hope-filled years when Popular Fronts are elected in both France and Spain. Capa stands side-by-side with demonstrators. But in Spain, a civil war breaks out and Capa shoots his most famous picture, "The Falling Soldier". From now on, warfare and war fields become his basic source of inspiration. These are stunning photos: families in flight, Spain in flames, blood on the front page. Capa has found his way onto the Spanish battlefields, fighting fascism alongside the Republicans, when Gerda gets killed, crushed by a tank.
Capa then moves to Asia, covering the conflict between China and Japan for the US magazine "Life", which hires him as a full time staff member. Capa is sent to Omaha Beach on D. Day, June 6, 1944: no one has ever pictured the ordeal more accurately. Now a US citizen, Capa travels and reports from the Soviet Union with John Steinbeck, writes his autobiography in 1947, and attends the birth of Israel in 1948.
In 1954, he volunteers for another stint in Indochina, where the French army is fighting the Viet-Minh: on May 25, 1954, he takes his last colour photo, a group of soldiers walking along the dyke of a rice paddy. An anti-personnel mine brings an end to the life of this extraordinarily gifted and rightfully celebrated eyewitness.