Thursday, January 31, 2008

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Capa's lost negatives

Finding a long lost Mexican Suitcase in itself is exciting enough. Even when you don't have any idea what a Mexican Suitcase is. The name alone is already exciting enough. Even if it were filled with old socks it would probably still be exciting.

But this Mexican Suitcase is not filled with socks. It's filled with lost work by perhaps the most famous war photographer of all time.

And then, as if that weren't thrilling enough, the lost negatives may put to rest one of the biggest controversies in the history of photography -- whether Capa's famous photo above, taken during the Spanish Civil War, was staged or not. Known as “The Falling Soldier,” it shows a Spanish Republican militiaman on a hillside near C√≥rdoba in 1936 at what appears to be the very instant a bullet strikes him.

The negatives are currently being analyzed at The International Center of Photography, an institution founded by Robert's brother. If they find a negative in the original sequence showing all the images taken before and after the shot, it could end the debate

Monday, January 28, 2008

"The Mexican Suitcase"

THIS JUST IN: Robert Capa's lost negatives have been found! The International Center of Photography here in NYC have "The Mexican Suitcase" (excuse me but are we in a spy movie?). They are painstakingly unpacking it (70 year old negatives are somewhat frail I imagine) and only just now beginning to discover what they actually have.

Can you imagine how exciting that must be? To be peering over this suitcase? Not only that. But the hope is that this will settle once and for all a question that has long dogged Capa's work. But more on that next blog...

Capa died believing the negatives were lost forever and the story of their journey to NYC and the ICP is like out of The Bourne Identity or something. You can read about it in a fascinating article about in The New York Times. (You even get to do a virtual hover over the actual suitcase and zoom in and out and move up and down and scroll left and right. How completely cool is that?)

Here's an excerpt from the article:

"To the small group of photography experts aware of its existence, it was known simply as “the Mexican suitcase.” And in the pantheon of lost modern cultural treasures, it was surrounded by the same mythical aura as Hemingway’s early manuscripts, which vanished from a train station in 1922.

The suitcase — actually three flimsy cardboard valises — contained thousands of negatives of pictures that Robert Capa, one of the pioneers of modern war photography, took during the Spanish Civil War before he fled Europe for America in 1939, leaving behind the contents of his Paris darkroom."

Photo: Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

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