Robert Capa’s Colorful Photos of the World After WWII

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When an artist tries his hand at something a bit different, yet still related to the medium he’s known to work in (when a poet tries to write a novel, or when Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead started composing film scores, etc.), it can take time for the public to come around to it. Robert Capa, whose credits include the iconic Spanish Civil War image The Falling Soldier and the famous Magnificent Eleven series of American soldiers of the 16th Regiment landing at Omaha Beach on D-Day, was a photographer best known for shooting in black and white.

While some purists might tell you his best images are strictly his war photographs in black and white, Capa in Color — the exhibition currently on display at New York’s International Center for Photography, as well as the book of the same name — brings together Capa’s vibrant images from not just the Second World War, but also the Soviet Union in the immediate years after it and Jerusalem in the early 1950s, glamorous jet setters, and Europeans skiing in the Alps. Of particular interest is the early ’50s work for which Capa coined the term “Generation X” to described young men and women growing up right after the war.

Hemingway, Steinbeck, soldiers, sailors, circus performers, and other unforgettable people both famous and unknown show up throughout the 200 pages of photos and editorials Capa contributed until his death in 1954, when Capa accidentally stepped on a landmine while covering the First Indochina War. The book as a whole works both as a loving tribute to Capa’s unforgettable work and as one of the all-around best compilations of photos from around the globe that capture life after World War II. Capa in Color shows us pictures of people living in a new world, making it an absolutely essential book of photography.

Photo credit: Robert Capa/International Center of Photography/Magnum Photos

Capucine, French model and actress, on a balcony, Rome, August 1951

Photo credit: Robert Capa/International Center of Photography/Magnum Photos

Lapp family, Norway, 1951

Photo credit: Robert Capa/International Center of Photography/Magnum Photos

New immigrants disembarking from the Theodor Herzl, near Haifa, Israel, 1950

Photo credit: Robert Capa/International Center of Photography/Magnum Photos

Ava Gardner on the set of The Barefoot Contessa, Tivoli, Italy, 1954