The exhibition of Robert Capa’s work is presented on two levels. A selection of enlargements – about 150 photos – from the Master Collection will be on display on both floors.
The descriptions accompanying the photographs not only inform us about Capa’s participation in a particular event, but also provide a historical context: they show the history that is always unfolding, while through Capa’s images we can discover its individual dimensions, the history of the individual.
The photo spaces are complemented by two information spaces per level. The first one, on the entrance level, evokes Robert Capa’s childhood milieu and the city where he grew up, Budapest at that time.
The second space focuses on photography, photojournalism, and the publication and editing of images in the printed press.
The information space on the lower level presents the life story of Robert Capa through various media.
The final, fourth additional space features a curated selection of the collection in the form of an installation projection, demonstrating the impressive power of Capa’s photos.
In addition to presenting the oeuvre of Robert Capa, the exhibition also aims to provide a complex presentation of the Capa phenomenon. It builds on the essential strengths of his life and work, combining life events with professional activities, personal aspects with well-known facts.
He also portrays the sensitive, passionate, generous, courageous, idealistic man behind the ‘Capa legend’, known to many, who stood up for justice and defied death, not just as ‘the world’s greatest war photographer’. By following the life of Robert Capa and presenting his photographic work chronologically, we have brought closer the man who reinvented himself by reordering his experiences through observation of the world around him, and the unique way in which he chose to practice his profession, photography, which made him a schoolmaster and an inescapable figure in the history of photography.
Robert Capa, the world-famous photographer born in Budapest, was not only an eyewitness to the defining historical events of the 20th century, but also a messenger in twenty-three countries on four continents. Throughout his life he believed that the universal language of photography could bring about change and make the world a better place. He could look at everything with that first ‘creative’ glance, and everything he touched seemed new and unprecedented. He saw what others could not, he was able to observe and think with a change of perspective, and therefore he was able to redefine everything and approach things with a new perspective.
His incandescent, all-pervading talent permeated all his activities, his whole life. His courage, his boldness, the visual power of his photographs is unparalleled. His never-failing empathy and humanism defined his every activity, he was, in Henri Cartier-Bresson’s words, one of the ‘ethical adventurers’, and the moral position of his images is an example to all. We show the man who, after five battlefield tours, documented what happened in the immediate vicinity of death and reinvented the methodology of battlefield photography. He showed the generations that followed him the power of images built on deep humanism.
We hope this exhibition will shed light on what we know about Capa’s oeuvre. During the preparatory work, we have searched with constant curiosity for all that Capa has left us, and we have been surprised by the countless surprises we have encountered in finding information and connections. Our aim was not to find the supposed truth in the controversial stories and images, but to treat them as part of the context of the images and weave them into the exhibition. The built-in visual elements help to understand many of the contexts and allow for viewer activity.
The Robert Capa phenomenon is still alive today, with countless research and discoveries still to be made, including in relation to his years in Hungary. Therefore, this exhibition and the material presented in it will be constantly updated with new discoveries and information not yet published. In this way, Robert Capa’s life’s work will continue to be a living and growing inspiration for today’s photographer and viewer.
Gabriella Csizek, curator