CHIM: A web biography of David Seymour  


 
Photograph by Robert Capa, 1944
Robert Capa (1913-1954), nee Andre Friedmann, was born in Budapest in 1913. Like many of his student companions of the thirties, he was keenly involved in the political turmoil of the period, and at the age of 18 found it expedient to leave Hungary. He moved on to Berlin and then Paris, where Chim persuaded the editors of Regards to give Capa a job covering the Front Populaire movement.

In 1936, Capa went to Spain to cover the Spanish Civil War with his friend Gerda Taro, nee Gerda Pohorylles. By that time, he was using the camera as a means of expression and setting on film the political life around him. Her tragic death ended her photographic career and left a deep scar on Capa's personality.

Capa went on to cover the Second World War from 1941 to 1945 in European theatre, and received the Medal of Freedom Citation from General Dwight D. Eisenhower. His photographs of the D-Day landing are classics. He became known as the quintessential war photographer though war was not the only subject of his camera.

In 1947, with his friends, David Seymour "Chim", Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger and Bill Vandivert, he began a picture agency named Magnum. He spent the next few years making Magnum into a successful cooperative, and photographing the good times with his artist friends, including Picasso, Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck.

While visiting pre-war friends in Japan he was called to replace another photographer on a LIFE assignment in Indochina. Capa took the assignment, and was killed after stepping on a land mine, the first American correspondent to die in Indochina.

Steinbeck said of Capa: "The effect of Capa will be found in the men who worked with him. They will carry a little part of Capa all their lives and perhaps hand him on to their young men." Of photography, Capa said, "If your pictures aren`t good enough, you aren't close enough."

Additional information on Robert Capa is also available.

 

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