Cornell  Capa's Memorial

Cornell Capa
(1918 - 2008)


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General Details

Name: Mr Cornell Capa
Gender: Male
Age: 90 years old
Lived: Sunday, 14 April 1918 - Friday, 23 May 2008

My Story

Cornell Capa, who founded the International Center of Photography in New York after a long and distinguished career as a photojournalist died on May 23, 2008 at his home in Manhattan, New York City. He was 90.

Cornell Capa was born Kornel Friedmann in 1918 into a Jewish family from Budapest. As a teenager, he had aspirations to become a doctor, for the sole purpose of helping people, but eventually decided that he could reach more people and have greater influence through photography.

At the age of 18 he moved to Paris where his brother Robert Capa (Andre Friedmann) was working as a photojournalist. He worked as his brother's printer for a year before moving on to New York in 1937 to join the new Pix photo agency. By 1938 he was supporting himself by working in the Life magazine darkroom, until his first photo-story on the New York Worlds Fair was published in Picture Post. After service in the U.S. Air Force, Capa became a LIFE staff photographer in 1946. He continued to work for LIFE until his brother's tragic death in 1954, when he joined Magnum. In 1956, after David “Chim” Seymour's death in Suez, Capa took over as the president of Magnum — a post he held until 1960.

As a photographer, Capa has been particularly sensitive and keen when covering topics of social significance or politics. When he was working for LIFE he made the first of many trips to Latin America where he chronicled the decimation of indigenous cultures. Through the 1970s he traveled back to the area on several occasions to continue the tales of snuffed cultures. His efforts were rewarded in three hooks, among them the subsequently famous 1964 Farewell to Eden, a study of the Amahuaca Indians of the Amazon.

Capa was involved in a broad range of social issues, such as old age in America and studied his own Jewish heritage through classic reportage, including a story on the Six-Day War. His 1957 book, Retarded Children Can Be Helped, was the product of his pioneering study of mentally retarded children, a project he started in 1954. He also covered the electoral campaigns of John and Robert Kennedy, Adlai Stevenson and Nelson Rockefeller. In the early 1970s, Capa coined the phrase "Concerned Photographer" to define “a photographer who is passionately dedicated to doing work that will contribute to the understanding or the well-being of humanity.”

His wife of 61 years, Edith Schwartz Capa, died in 2001. He has no immediate survivors.

"I have always thought of myself not as a reporter, but as a commentator," Capa wrote in the introduction to his 1992 book "Cornell Capa Photographs." "I have aimed to be a credible witness, one who cares about the world he inhabits."

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To one of the greatest photojournalists ever.


Country of Birth: Hungary
Country of Residence: USA
City of Residence: New York City
Occupation: Media
Marital Status: Widowed
Religion: Jewish



Place of Passing: New York City
Date of Passing: 23 May 2008
Cause of Passing: Parkinson disease
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