Robert Capa

Robert Capa

Robert Capa (Endre Friedmann)

photographer, photojournalist

He was born into a Jewish family in Budapest. His parents were tailors. He studied at Madách Gimnázium (high school). At the age of 18, first he settled down in Vienna, later in Prague and finally in Berlin. He started his studies in journalism at the German Political College but he was not allowed to finish them because of his Jewish origin. He settled down in Paris, and adopted the name ’Robert Capa’ in 1934. At that time, he had already been a hobby-photographer.

He was called Capa by his Hungarian friends, and the name sounded like an American name. Actually, he hoped that name would help him sell his work and succeed as a photographer. He became the war correspondent of the Vu Magazine. He documented the Spanish Civil War in 1936, the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1938, World War II across Europe: London, Italy, Paris. We was working during the Battle of Normandy, and the Israeli wars in 1950’s. His photo, ’The Falling Soldier’ was taken during the Spanish Civil War and it brought him immediate success. The picture was published first in VU magazine and then in LIFE. Whether the image was original sparked a controversy. The official view is that the photo is original, meaning Capa photographed the soldier at the moment of his death. Apart from his job, Capa’s life was full of hedonism. He had an affair with the celebrated actress Ingrid Bergman. In 1954, Life sent him to Indochina. He was working on documenting the French colonial wars, when he suddenly died in an accident, stepping on a landmine (afternoon of May 25, 5 minutes before 3). Some famous words attributed to him: ’If your pictures are not good enough, you were not close enough.’

Robert Capa took photos in 1948 of Hungary, his pictures show the devastation of war and communist. One of the pictures shows a fashion show at the Rotschild salon of Váci Street, and another shows the crowd on Váci Street. The street is now Budapest’s most famous shopping area, which consists of two parts. The Northern part of the street (since 1986) was the first pedestrian street in Budapest, and the Southern section which was designated as one in 1996. At the edges of the street, stones can be found from the former city gates.