Waiting for Robert Capa, a review by Molly Sears-Piccavey
Molly Sears-Piccavey has lived in Spain since 1998, initially in Barcelona, but now lives in Granada. Working in Communication and PR, she uses her spare time to read and read books, she is a also a busy Blogger and a frenetic twitterer. Molly speaks fluent Spanish and English as well as some French and Catalan.
Robert Capa, one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century. The name sounds American although actually he was Hungarian, born as Endre Ernő Friedmann a War photographer who redefined photo journalism. He took his pictures directly from the trenches, when at the time most photographers snapped images of the conflicts from a safe distance.
This Susana Fortes book delves in his personal life and his intense relationship with the German refugee Gerda Pohorylle (Taro). Gerda began working with Andre Friedmann as his agent, first creating the identity of Robert Capa, to disguise the Hungarian in exile. This way she managed to sell the pictures and achieve the best prices for his work. Soon afterwards her work developed and she actually began to take photographs herself and learn the art of photography alongside Robert Capa.
The book recounts different aspects of the Spanish Civil War in different locations throughout Spain as well as the romance lived between these brave war photographers. This recent Guardian article: Love in a time of war 13 May 2012 discusses their relationship and this book.
The descriptions of the Spanish scenery as well as the society in Paris and Spain at that time are recommended reading for anyone with an interest in European history. Robert Capa spent from 1936 to 1939 in Spain documenting the different stages in images of the turmoil that was the Spanish Civil War in photographs. As a reader we see the beginnings of the conflict unfold and develop.
For more details on the photos and work of Robert Capa Books 4 Spain also have Robert Capa: The definitive collection available. This book is packed full of Capa´s best photography throughout his life all arranged in Chronological order. You can actually see Robert Capa´s work this summer in Verona, Italy at Robert Capa’s photographic exhibition in Verona (until September 2012).
The passion between the protagonists for photography and their passionate relationship creates a certain tension through the book, as we turn the pages the conflict in Spain expands and increases in violence. Both photographers are keen to shown what’s happening through their camera lenses, getting real information into the newspapers and are often reckless with their fieldwork. Their fierce dedication to journalism puts their personal safety on the line continually.
This tale is a great combination of romance, historic fact and bravery during the Spanish Civil War. The title tells us that Gerda is waiting for André to return to her but there are far more layers of complexity to their relationship than that phrase gives the impression of.
Of course all of this recklessness, non-conformity and bravery couldn’t end happily. Gerda was killed on the 27th July 1937 near to Madrid in the town of Brunete after photographing one of the fiercest battles of the Spanish Civil War. The air offensive above Madrid and Brunete just day before her death was made up of around 200 Spanish, Italian and German planes and was a key battle in that stage of the war.
The fatal accident causing her death was a crash with a republican tank which collided into the car she was travelling in. Gerda Taro was most likely the first woman photographer ever killed in action. Her remains lie in the Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris.
“Waiting for Robert Capa” is being filmed for big screen, being directed by Michael Mann, it will be released later on this year and stars Gemma Arterton.
© Books4Spain Ltd 2012 This review may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the permission of Books4Spain.
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