CORNELL CAPA (1918-2008)

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BOLSHOI BALLET, MOSCOW, 1958 by CORNELL CAPA (1918-2008) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley





The work of Cornell Capa complemented that of his better-known brother, Robert, as he determined to be a photographer of peace'. A member of Magnum Photos from 1954, he was its president in the years 1956-60.

Cornell Capa was born Kornél Friedmann in Budapest, Austria-Hungary, on 10 April 1918. In 1936, he moved to Paris, where his brother Endre was working under the name Robert Capa as a photojournalist. He worked as his brother's printer until 1937, then moved to New York to join the new Pix photo agency, changing his name to Cornell Capa. In 1938 he began working in the Life darkroom. Soon his first photo essay on the New York World's Fair was published in 'Picture Post'.

Serving in the US Air Force during the Second World War, Capa became an American citizen in 1943. Three years later, he became a staff photographer for 'Life'. After his brother's death in 1954, he joined Magnum and, when David Chim' Seymour died in Suez in 1956, he took over as president, a post he held until 1960.

Capa made an empathetic, pioneering study of mentally retarded children in 1954, and covered other social issues, such as old age in America. He also explored his own Jewish religious tradition.

While working for 'Life', Capa made the first of several Latin American trips. These continued through the 1970s and culminated in three books, among them 'Farewell to Eden' (1964), a study of the destruction of indigenous Amazon cultures.

Capa covered the electoral campaigns of John and Robert Kennedy, Adlai Stevenson and Nelson Rockefeller, among others. His 1969 book, 'New Breed on Wall Street', was a landmark study of a generation of ruthless young entrepreneurs keen on making money and spending it fast.

In 1974, Capa founded New York City's influential International Center of Photography and, as director, dedicated much of his considerable energy to it over many years.

Cornell Capa died in New York City on 23 May 2008.

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