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Friday, 23 May 2008

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Just to remember his original name, he was called 'Kornél Friedmann' when he was born in Hungary.

Dear yz,

Speaking as someone who has no particular interest in preserving his 'original name' (and it's my name, so I should get to decide, doncha think?), so far as I'm concerned he is and always will be Cornell Capa because his name is his to choose.

pax / Ctein

yz and Ctein,
What I find interesting about C. Capa's name change is that he adopted his BROTHER'S name-of-choice. André Friedmann became Robert Capa (as I understand it the name "Capa" was at first a working pseudonym, chosen by R. Capa and Gerda Taro--who also changed her birth name, from Gerda Pohorylle, at the same time) before Kornél Friedmann became Cornell Capa. I don't know the story, but I'd like to. I wonder if C.C. ever wrote about it or talked about it in an interview?

Mike J.

In "Capa: Cara a Cara" Published in Spanish and English versions by Aperture, it is noted that Andre Friedmann was unable to realize his dream of studying journalism at the University in Hungary because of the pro-fascist/anti-Jew government in power at the time. He left Hungary for Berlin in 1931 at the age of 17 to pursue his studies but was forced to leave school when his parents were no longer able to send him money. He went to work in the Dephot photography agency and so began his career in photojournalism. When Hitler assumed power Andre fled to Paris and for two years encountered enormous difficulties getting work.

Andre fell in love with Gerta who was a German refugee and had been jailed in Germany for her political beliefs. She believed in Andre's talent and became his promotor. It was Gerta's idea to sell Andre's photos under the assumed name of Robert Capa, an imaginary American who, as the story went, had achieved great fame for his work in America. The idea was a success until the ruse was revealed and Andre had no choice but to become Robert Capa. Gerta then changed her name to Gerta Taro, inspired by Taro Okamoto a Japanese sculptor who was a friend of theirs in Paris. It would follow that Cornell who was Andre's younger brother would also assume the name Capa.

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