On 1 August 1937, a procession of red flags crosses Paris. It is the funeral procession for Gerda Taro, the first woman photographer to fall on the battlefield. She would have been 27 years old that day. Pablo Neruda and Louis Aragon read her eulogy, while the band sings Chopin's funeral march. Alberto Giacometti designed the tomb that holds his remains at the Père-Lachaise cemetery. Robert Capa is devastated, they had been happy together, he had taught her how to use the Leica, they had fallen in love and left for the Spanish war.
An exhibition recounts that story of love and war: Camera - Centro Italiano per la Fotografia in Turin has set up from 14 February (is the Valentine's Day anniversary a deliberate or random choice?) until 2 June, in the rooms of Via delle Rosine 18, 'Robert Capa and Gerda Taro: photography, love, war', curated by Walter Guadagnini and Monica Poggi.
An artistic and sentimental partnership
Gerta Pohorylle, an exile from Nazi Germany, and Endre Erno Friedmann, a Hungarian emigrant, met in Paris in 1934, began dating and fell in love, forging an artistic and sentimental partnership that led them to collaborate in photography, engage in political struggle, and frequent the clubs of the Latin Quarter: Fred Stein's famous shot in which Gerda and Robert, seated at a small table in the Café de Dome, do not realise they are being photographed by Stein on the other side of the pavement of rue Vavin and smile complicitly as only lovers know how to do.
Birth of a dual myth
In the 1930s, Paris is in great turmoil, frequented by intellectuals and artists from all over Europe; finding commissions is difficult. It is Gerta who invents the character of Robert Capa, a rich and famous American photographer recently arrived in the Old Continent. She too changes her name and becomes Gerda Taro. A double myth of photojournalism is born: he the greatest war photojournalist of the 20th century, she, the girl with the Leica, journalist and photographer without fear.
Two complementary points of view
In August 1936, they were in Spain documenting the civil war between republicans and fascists: Robert Capa took his best-known shot, the militiaman shot dead, while Gerda Taro took her most iconic image, a militiawoman in training, pistol pointed and shoes with heels, with an unprecedented view of the war made and represented by women: if it is true that a photograph also tells the story of the person who took it, Gerda is all there in that shot.
Conflict and everyday life
Gerda and Robert take photographs-testimony of an active participation in the conflict, both from the point of view of war reportage and the daily life of soldiers, female soldiers and the population. The photographs were published in the most important newspapers of the time, and brought the couple (who signed with a single initials, without distinguishing author or author) fame and business opportunities.
Between Paris and Spain
In order to document the strikes in the French capital, the 1937 elections also in France, the International Convention of Anti-Fascist Writers in Valencia, where Gerda Taro photographed André Malraux, Ilya Ehrenburg, Tristan Tzara, Anna Seghers, the two travelled from Paris to Spain between 1936 and 1937.
After the victory of the Popular Front, Gerda Taro lost her life on her return from the front at Brunete. On 25 July 1937, she was travelling on the outside step of a car full of wounded men when German planes flew low over the convoy machine-gunning it. In the general chaos, a tank hit the car Gerda was clinging to and she fell under the tracks, being crushed. She died on 26 July. The following year, Robert Capa published "Death in the Making", dedicated to his companion, which includes many photographs in the exhibition. A little less than twenty years later, in 1954, Capa would also find death, tragically, on the battlefield by jumping on a mine in Vietnam.
The Mexican Suitcase
The exhibition is enriched by the reproduction of some samples of the 'Mexican Suitcase', with the 4,500 negatives taken in Spain with David Seymour. The suitcase, the traces of which had been lost in 1939 (when Capa entrusted it to a friend to prevent the materials from being requisitioned and destroyed by German troops), was rediscovered in 2007 in Mexico City, making it possible to correctly attribute a series of images whose author or creator was previously unclear.