BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Rarely seen color photographs by Robert Capa, the legendary Hungarian photographer best known for his battlefield pictures from the Spanish Civil War and D-Day, are being shown for the first time in Europe at the Budapest institution which bears his name.
Capa, born Endre Friedmann in Budapest in 1913, began experimenting with color photography in 1938 and it soon became an integral, though seldom published, part of his work. Afterward, he always carried two cameras, one loaded with color film, the other with black and white.
“This allows a very good comparison and how he approaches color photography in a totally different manner,” said Istvan Viragvolgyi, deputy director of the Robert Capa Contemporary Photography Center. “He turns his camera in other directions, looking for themes where color really adds a lot to it.”
The exhibit containing 136 color photographs, as well as film and sound recordings of Capa, runs until Sep. 20 and was first shown last year in New York, at the International Center of Photography founded by Cornell Capa, Robert’s late brother.
Consisting mostly of photos taken in peacetime, it includes pictures for a 1947 magazine feature about the Soviet Union written by John Steinbeck; Hollywood stars like Humphrey Bogart, Orson Wells and Ingrid Bergman on location; a series on post-World War II youth called Generation X, a term often attributed to Capa; Israel soon after its 1948 creation; and playful images of Pablo Picasso rejected by a magazine in favor of similar pictures in black and white.
“He is one of the most humanist photographers who worked on the battlefields,” said Zoltan Szalay, an award-winning Hungarian photographer.
Some of the originals in the collection of 4,200 color slides had faded over the decades and were digitally restored.
“We can see how easily he adapted the new techniques and immediately delved into color photography,” Viragvolgyi said. “He did not hesitate. He always went forward.”
For Viragvolgyi, Capa’s legacy for photographers revolves around his continual renewal, which “is needed not only today but was indispensable already 70 years ago.”
Capa was killed by a land mine in 1954 while covering the Indochina War in what is now Vietnam.