Capa at 100
David Scherman, [Robert Capa, Weymouth, England], June 7, 1944. © David Scherman.
Capa the day after he swam up on Omaha beach with American troops for the invasion of Normandy.
Robert Capa, [Jinx Falkenberg surrounded by autograph seekers, New York], December 1940. © Robert Capa/International Center of Photography.
The radio interview was conducted by the husband and wife team of Jinx Falkenberg and Tex McCrary. Capa had actually photographed Jinx Falkenberg seven years earlier in New York, while she was performing in Al Jolson’s Broadway musical Hold On to Your Hat.
Slightly Out of Focus by Robert Capa (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1947)
The interview was part of the publicity for Capa’s autobiographical novel, Slightly Out of Focus, published earlier that year. The book recounts Capa’s adventures as a photographer during World War II. Written to be turned into a movie (which never happened), it is humorous and a lively read. On the book's flap jacket, he writes, "Writing the truth being obviously so difficult, I have in the interests of it allowed myself to go sometimes slightly beyond and slightly this side of it."
Unidentified photographer, [John Steinbeck and Robert Capa boarding a plane for the USSR, Stockholm], 1947.
Of his arrival in the USSR, Capa said there was "no carpet of any color" that greeted them in Moscow.
Robert Capa, [Robert Capa and John Steinbeck, Moscow], 1947. © Robert Capa/International Center of Photography.
Robert Capa, [Young visitors waiting to see Lenin’s Tomb on Red Square, Moscow], 1947. © Robert Capa/International Center of Photography.
Robert Capa, [Portrait photographer on the streets of Stalingrad], August 1947. © Robert Capa/International Center of Photography.
Robert Capa, [Republican militiaman saying farewell before the departure of a troop train for the front, Barcelona], August 1936. © Robert Capa/International Center of Photography.
This was one of the first pictures taken of the Spanish Civil War when he arrived in August 1936.
Robert Capa, Death of a Loyalist Militiaman, Córdoba front, Spain, early September 1936. © Robert Capa/International Center of Photography.
When discussing this picture, Capa reflected: "That was called the best picture I ever took," and describes how the picture was taken. This is the only account directly from him that we have of the photograph.
Page from Vu, September 23, 1936, with Capa’s picture of the Falling Soldier.
The French Vu was the first magazine to publish this famous image. Capa says in the interview that "the prize picture is born in the imagination of editors and public who sees them."
Pencil on paper by Alan Reeve, 1944.
Capa (right) playing poker with writers William Saroyan and Irwin Shaw and filmmaker George Stevens in London in the spring of 1944. Capa says that it was in England during the war that he was introduced to poker, "a game of skill" and "the manly art of self-destruction."
Robert Capa, [U.S. pilots prepare "Bad Penny" for a raid over Saint-Nazaire, in Occupied France, England], 1942. © Robert Capa/International Center of Photography.
In the interview, Capa describes how images taken on this air force base in England had accidentally passed through the censor, but were pulled from the cover of the magazine at the last minute because they contained secret information about the design of the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses.
Page from Slightly Out of Focus. © Robert Capa/International Center of Photography.
Capa recounts how he followed this young sergeant out to the balcony of an apartment building looking over the last bridge still covered by the Germans. "I came out there, too, and kind of looked at him, to take a picture of him. But, God the war was over. Who wanted to see one more picture of someone shooting?" Minutes later, he was shot by a sniper.
Robert Capa, [American soldier killed by a German sniper, Leipzig, Germany], April 18, 1945. © Robert Capa/International Center of Photography.
Capa called this man the last man to die. "I’m sure that there were many last men who were killed. But he was the last man maybe in our sector and it was just about the real end of the war."
Robert Capa, [American troops landing on Omaha Beach, Normandy France], June 6, 1944. © Robert Capa/International Center of Photography.
While Capa does not discuss his famous D-Day photograph in the interview, it was the story that made him famous to American audiences through the June 19, 1944 issue of Life, which featured ten images from the day of the invasion and helped turn American support for the war.
Life, June 19, 1944.
The Life caption writer did not allude to the fact that the negatives were nearly destroyed in the processing, but simply mentioned: "Immense excitement of moment made Photographer Capa move the camera and blur the picture," which is where he got the inspiration for the title of his book.
Robert Capa Centenary
In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Robert Capa on October 22, 1913 in Budapest, ICP is excited to share a recent discovery of a long lost recording of a his only known radio interview. "Bob Capa Tells of Photographic Experiences Abroad" was broadcast on October 20, 1947 on the 8:30 am morning radio show "Hi! Jinx." The interview was part of the press relations surrounding the publication of Slightly Out of Focus, his autobiographical novel chronicling his adventures during World War II published by Henry Holt and Company that year.
This radio interview is the only recording that we have of his voice.
"Hi! Jinx" was a national program on NBC radio that was created in 1946 by Jinx Falkenburg and Tex McCrary. The husband and wife team were pioneers of what became to be called the talk show format. They eventually had two radio programs, a five-day-a week television program and a syndicated column in the New York Herald Tribune. Falkenburg was a model and had been photographed by Capa in December 1940 following one of her performances in Al Jolson’s musical Hold On to Your Hat. McCrary was a journalist and as an Army Air Corps colonel had led the first journalists into the ruins of Hiroshima.
Previous attempts to locate this in national radio archives were unsuccessful. None had recordings of this specific show. The recording showed up recently on eBay from a seller in Western Massachusetts, who had discovered the recording and others several years ago in the area from an estate sale. The record is a 33 1/3 rpm microgroove recording made by Associated Recording Services, an archival recording service.
This recording is the only known recording of Robert Capa. While he gave other public talks, this was the only radio interview and he was never interviewed on television. Only scant newsreel films show him in action, and none with his voice. He appeared in a few Hollywood productions but was cast as a mute Arab.
His first language was Hungarian, but he learned, in order, German, French, Spanish, and English. English became his dominant written and spoken language by 1941. His speech was dubbed "Capanese" by friends and was considered incomprehensible, but the interview shows Capa not only clear but highly articulate. His easy style underscores his innate proclivity for self-deprecation, humor, and storytelling.
The interview starts with stories from his recent trip to the USSR with John Steinbeck and then turns to other subjects: poker, the invention of his name, his so-called last image of the war taken of an American soldier killed in Leipzig in April 1945. But it is Capa who brings up his famous "Falling Soldier" image and describes how it was made. He says, "The prize picture is born in the imagination of the editors and the public who sees them." It is the only public comment we have directly from him about this famous image.
Robert Capa Exhibitions Around the World
Robert Capa 100
August 2–October 28, 2013 | Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, Seoul, Korea
Capa the Gambler
September 18, 2013-January 12, 2014 | Hungarian National Museum, Budapest, Hungary
Capa in Italy
October 2, 2013–January 5, 2014 | Palazzo Braschi, Rome, Italy
January 10–March 30, 2014 | Museo Nazionale della fotografia Fratelli Alinari, Florence, Italy
The Mexican Suitcase: Rediscovered Spanish Civil War Negatives by Capa, Chim, and Taro
October 8, 2013–February 9, 2014 | Museo San Ildefonso, Mexico City
Robert Capa Retrospective
October 20, 2013–January 19, 2014| Villa Marin, Passariano del Friuli, Italy
March–June 2014 | Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Tokyo, Japan
November 14–17, 2013 | Galerie Daniel Blau, Paris Photo, France
Capa in Color
January 31-May 4 2014 | International Center of Photography, New York
The Leipzig building where Robert Capa took his famous 1945 picture of the American soldier killed on the balcony by a German sniper is celebrating the centenary. The building had been slated for demolition in 2011, but a local campaign successfully fought this and now a new investor is planning a full renovation. As part of the project, the original balcony where the image was taken (third floor window to the left of the graffiti M) that was removed decades ago will be restored. The building is referred to as the "Capa-Haus."
For more information about the building and history behind the image, visit www.mdr.de.