Inventing Robert Capa
Paris, 1934. A beautiful young Jewish émigrée, Gerda Pohorylle, meets down-on-his luck Hungarian photographer, André Friedmann. They fall in love. He teaches her photography, she smartens him up and starts selling his work. Two years later, they reinvent themselves as Gerda Taro and Robert Capa.
When Gerda Taro was killed reporting from the Spanish Civil War at the age of twenty-six her funeral drew crowds of thousands; she became a hero of the political left. But while Robert Capa would become the most important photojournalist of his generation, Taro fell into obscurity. Overshadowed by her famous partner, she became a mere footnote in his story: ‘Capa’s girlfriend’. Seventy years after her death a box was discovered in Mexico containing thousands of negatives by Capa, Taro and their fellow photographer Chim. ‘The Mexican suitcase’ was an astonishing find that allowed scholars to prove for the first time that many photographs previously attributed previously to Capa were, in fact, the work of Taro.
In the first English-language biography of Gerda Taro, Jane Rogoyska traces Taro’s life to reveal the depth of her relationship with Capa and the profound nature of their professional collaboration, offering readers a detailled examination of the woman who created the legend of Robert Capa and the world’s first female photojournalist to die in combat.
Published by Jonathan Cape, 2013
The first female photojournalist to die on the front line of battle
‘What sets this biography apart is the way in which it unpicks Taro and Capa’s creative and romantic relationship, showing, in the process, how integral she was to his development… With two films about Capa and Taro’s relationship in the offing, it may be an opportune time to acquaint oneself with this well-researched, and meticulously recreated, story of their overlapping lives before the myth takes over.’
Sean O’Hagan, Observer
‘A lively, richly illustrated book.’
Lorna Scott Fox, Times Literary Supplement
‘An engaging, visually stimulating read.’
‘What makes the book come alive, perhaps inevitably, are the photographs of [Taro] and Capa… They are a remarkable testimonial to two young photographers whose extraordinary talent it was to convey war at its most immediate, intimate and brutal.’
Caroline Moorehead, Literary Review
‘Jane Rogoyska charts the course of Gerda Taro’s life, revealing much new material, illustrated by some truly great photography, some of which has never been seen’
Black and White Photography
‘Capa and Taro began their careers in the 1930s, when the introduction of handheld cameras, including the 35-mm Leica, was changing the ways in which photographers covered battle. Rogoyska balances this evolution with historical and technical aspects of the Spanish Civil War. She also chronicles a love affair, one played out during penniless days in Paris and against the backdrop of battle, rendering it as skilfully as a seasoned novelist.’
Kevin Rabelais, The Monthly