Capa in Colour

January 16, 2014 | Zoltan Arva-Toth | Comment | |

Legendary Hungarian photojournalist Robert Capa is mostly remembered for his iconic black-and-white photographs, but he is actually among the pioneers of colour photography too. From as early as 1938 right until his death in 1954 he shot literally thousands of frames on colour film, principally Kodachrome, in various formats ranging from 35mm to 4x5". Capa in Colour, on view at the International Center of Photography (ICP) from 31st January to 4th May and comprising over 100 contemporary prints, is the first full assessment of his colour work. The exhibition spans a variety of genres including war photography, portraiture, classic photojournalism and fashion photography. In conjunction with the exhibition, ICP will present a panel highlighting Robert Capa’s life, career, and legacy on Wednesday, 12th February at 7:00 pm. The event will take place at the School at ICP (Shooting Studio, 1114 Avenue of the Americas at 43rd Street, New York).

Website: International Center of Photography

International Center of Photography Press Release

Capa in Color

On view from January 31, 2014 through May 4, 2014

Beginning in 1941, Robert Capa regularly used color film until his death in 1954. Some of the photographs were published in the magazines of the day, but over the years the color work was virtually forgotten. Until now.

Capa in Color, on view at the International Center of Photography (ICP) from January 31 to May 4, 2014, is the first full assessment of color photographs by the famed photojournalist. Comprising over 100 contemporary prints, as well as related publications and personal papers, the exhibition is a fascinating new look into the color work of this master of photography.

“Capa’s talent with black-and-white film was extraordinary, and starting color film halfway through his career required a new discipline, but it also opened up new opportunities,” said ICP Curator Cynthia Young, who organized the exhibition. “The exhibition is also about how Capa reinvents himself as a photographer during the years when he is not covering war and political conflicts. The color work was very much a part of trying to keep the Magnum agency afloat, because the magazines wanted more and more color in the postwar period.”

In 1938, while in China covering the Sino-Japanese War, Capa wrote to a friend at his New York agency requesting 12 rolls of Kodachrome and instructions on how to use it. Only four prints published in the October 17, 1938, issue of Life survive from these first experiments with color film, but Capa was clearly curious about color photography even before it was widely used in news magazines or by other photojournalists. During his first two years covering World War II, he used color film more regularly and often carried two cameras with him. In 1941, while crossing the Atlantic with an Allied convoy, he shot color images for the Saturday Evening Post and later traveled to North Africa, where he made spectacular images of the military buildup. While some of his color work was published in Illustrated and Collier’s, in 1944 and 1945 he returned to using black-and-white film exclusively, in part because of the time required to process, censor, edit, and publish color.

Capa’s use of color film exploded in postwar stories for Holiday, Illustrated, Collier’s, and Ladies’ Home Journal. He traveled to the USSR in 1947 with writer John Steinbeck and to Israel in 1949 and 1950. He covered fashionable Paris and Rome, Alpine skiing, glamorous Hollywood celebrities on international film sets, and the stylish resorts of Biarritz and Deauville for the burgeoning travel market. Holiday also published Capa’s travel writing to accompany several of these stories. The exhibition also includes his last stunning color photos taken in Indochina in 1954. Color photography was not a supplement to his black-and-white work, but was fundamentally integrated into his life and career during the 1940s and 1950s. Capa in Color is drawn entirely from the Robert Capa Archive in ICP’s permanent collection. The Archive contains roughly 4,200 color transparencies - 35mm Kodachrome, 2¼ Ektachrome, and some larger Kodachrome sheet film. It also includes thousands of vintage black-and-white prints, negatives, tearsheets, and papers.

Robert Capa Centennial

The exhibition is part of ICP’s yearlong celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Robert Capa. On October 22, 2013, ICP released the only existing recording of the famed photojournalist’s voice, from an interview on WNBC’s radio program “Hi! Jinx.” Now preserved in the ICP Archive, the recently discovered recording can be heard in its entirety at

In addition, from October 22, 2013, until the opening of Capa in Color on January 31, 2014, ICP is partnering with Magnum Photos to present the digital project Get Closer, a daily posting of one Capa image coupled with a work by a contemporary photographer, with observations and reflections on Capa’s influence and legacy. The photographers include Magnum members and other renowned photojournalists, many of the Robert Capa Gold Medal winners from the Overseas Press Club, and contemporary artists working in photography.

For more information, visit

About Robert Capa

Born Endré Friedmann in Budapest on October 22, 1913, Robert Capa became one of the most respected photojournalists of the 20th century. A teenager with a precocious interest in literature and radical politics, he was exiled from Hungary as a result of his protests against the repressiveness and anti-Semitism of the government. He went to Berlin to study journalism but ended up working as an assistant in the darkroom of an outstanding photojournalistic agency (Dephot), from which he received his first assignment: to photograph the exiled Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky.

Early in 1933, Hitler’s rise to power forced the young photographer to move on to Paris, where he covered the tumultuous politics of the Popular Front. He gained an international reputation for his reportage on the Spanish Civil War, beginning in 1936. After Spain, he went on to photograph Chinese resistance to the Japanese invasion (1938); Italy, England, France, and Germany during World War II (1941–45); the Israeli War for Independence (1948); and the end of the French Indochina War (1954), where he stepped on an antipersonnel mine and was killed on May 25, 1954.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Capa traveled around the world as a correspondent for Magnum Photos, the agency he founded in 1947 with Henri Cartier-Bresson, Chim (David Seymour), William Vandivert, and George Rodger. During that time, he created an enormous number of images that capture more joyful times — beach and ski resorts, French racetracks, and portraits of his many glamorous and successful artist friends, including Ingrid Bergman, John Huston, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, and Pablo Picasso.

A fully illustrated catalogue produced in partnership with DelMonico Books • Prestel, accompanies the exhibition. It includes an essay by Cynthia Young and a scholarly bibliography.

Capa in Color (ICP/ DelMonico Books • Prestel 2014)
208 pages with 225 illustrations
10 x 12 inches
Hardcover; US $60.00
Publication date: January 2014

In conjunction with the exhibition, ICP will present a panel highlighting Robert Capa’s life, career, and legacy on Wednesday, February 12 at 7:00 pm. The event will take place at the School at ICP (Shooting Studio, 1114 Avenue of the Americas at 43rd Street).
Capa in Color is made possible, in part, by the ICP Exhibitions Committee and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Photo: Robert Capa, [Capucine, French model and actress, on a balcony, Rome], August 1951. © Robert Capa/International Center of Photography/Magnum Photos

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