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Capa: cara a cara. Fotografías de Robert Capa sobre la Guerra Civil Española de la colección del Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

2 february, 1999 - 28 march, 1999 /
Sabatini Building, Floor 3, Paper Gallery

Robert Capa (Budapest, 1913 - Thai Binh, Vietnam, 1954), pseudonym of André Friedmann Ernö is recognised very early in his career as the greatest war photographer in the world, as noted by the article in Picture Post (no. 10, December 3, 1938), because of the publication of one of the most outstanding photographic reports on the Spanish Civil War. His political activism during his youth becomes a commitment to verify the reduction of the cultural, social and economic practices both in his country and in Germany, where he settles in 1931 and which he leaves two years later. His Jewishness, his ideological affinity with the Communist Party and his anarchist tendencies lead him to a voluntary exile and to dedicate his budding career as a reporter to serve the struggle against fascism.

During the period of the Civil War -which he covered from the Republican side- Capa converts the conflict into an absolute motive, always visible on a huge number of negatives and photographs. This exhibition presents a comprehensive set of 205 prints donated by Cornell Capa, brother of the photographer, out of nearly a thousand almost better shots taken by him during the Spanish war. In addition the twenty or so photographs from the National Historical Archive, Civil War Section, complete the display of images documenting the staging and extent of the immediate consequences of the war (destruction, death, land and air attacks, rest time, trenches and shelters, evacuation, exile).

Capa's photographs mark the beginning of a new genre of war reporting, since he captures the war first hand (in the foreground) and gives in many cases a sense of dynamism, unusual until then. Moreover, the mobility of the reporter (using a Leica 35 mm) constitutes the highest technical achievement which allows him to offer a complete image of the war, as he could place himself everywhere, as illustrated by the famous Muerte de un miliciano. Cerro Muriano, Cordoba, September 5, 1936. Secondly, because he does not limit the interest of documenting to only war but widens his lens to the limits of men and objects: boredom, fatigue, enthusiasm, will, famine and despair. In this way Capa portrays the civil side of the war (Almeria. Refugiados procedentes de Málaga February 1937). Founding a new style and a new way of understanding the reporter's work, Capa says in an interview in September 1937 that "truth is the best picture, the best propaganda." The photographer, as well as placing himself before the given objects, is able to focus on the drama of war in each of his photos, which function as a trigger, activating a sustained reading in symbolic implications.

Exhibition´s details

Organized by: 
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía
Catherine Coleman and Richard Whelan
Exhibition Tour: 

Museo Extremeño e Iberoamericano MEIAC, Badajoz (September - November, 1999); Caracas, Venezuela, 1999; Museo Rufino Tamayo, Mexico City, 1999; Magyar Nemzeti Galeria, Budapest (March 21 - May 20, 2002)


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