Happy Birthday Cornell Capa!

Today we celebrate the birthday of ICP’s founder, Cornell Capa.

Born in Budapest, Capa moved to Paris in 1936 to join his brother, legendary war photographer Robert Capa. Although he had intended to study medicine, Cornell was drawn to photography through his brother and began making prints for him, as well as for Henri Cartier-Bresson and Chim (David Seymour), and in 1937 he moved to New York to pursue a career.

After he had worked in the darkrooms of the Pix agency and LIFE for a few years, his first photo story was published in Picture Post in 1939. During World War II, Capa worked for the US Army Air Corps Photo-Intelligence Unit and the Army Air Corps’s public relations department. In 1946, he became a staff photographer at LIFE, based mainly in the American Midwest, and covered some three hundred assignments over the next three years. He was the magazine’s resident photographer in England for two years, after which he returned to the United States.

Upon Robert’s death in 1954, Capa left LIFE to continue his borther’s work at Magnum. Over the next twenty years, Capa photographed many important stories for Magnum, including the activities of the Perón government in Argentina; the Democratic National Conventions of 1956, 1960 and 1968; and John F. Kennedy’s first hundred days in office.

In the mid-1970s he devoted himself more to the care and promotion of other photographers’ work through his International Fund for Concerned Photography. In 1974, he organized the exhibition The Concerned Photographer, which led to the establishment of the International Center of Photography.  ICP’s mission was to give support to photography as a means of communication and creative expression, and to the preservation of photographic archives as a vital component of twentieth-century history. Capa served as ICP’s Director Emeritus until his death in 2008. 

» more photos of famous people «  |  » more of Magnum Photos «

© Cornell Capa, 1955, A Hebrew lesson, Brooklyn, New York

"One thing that Life and I agreed right from the start was that one war photographer was enough for my family; I was to be a photographer of peace." (Cornell Capa)

» find more of Magnum Photos here «