Fakery, fantasy, froth and fabulousity

Posted in Art in the world by Adele Todd on August 2, 2009

Very recently I read an excellent article on war photojournalism. At the end of it, the famous Capa image of the soldier being shot in the back was discussed at length because of the belief that it was actually staged.

This statement stayed with me, as being shot in the back did not sound like something that could be easily affected, unless acting was the point of the whole endeavour. In the case of war imagery, was this the proper way to interpret real pathos?


AFP/SunReel Media/File – Robert Capa’s iconic war photograph is displayed during the “Correspondents In the Spanish Civil

I thought about the great artists who interpreted war before the camera made it possible to do so, People like Goya and Gericault.

The Capa photograph caused such contention that journalists from a newspaper in Spain went out of their way to proove once and for all whether the image was indeed ‘too perfect’ to be the real thing.

The paper, El Periodico combed over one hundred and fifty images that Capa took in 1930’s and 40’s that were shown at a gallery in New York in 2007.

The conclusion was then reached that Capa faked the shot after all. It basically was not captured where he said it was. But, does this make him a cheat or a perfectionist or a little of both? It also asks the question, do you have to believe something definitively to be moved by its first visual impact?

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One Response

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  1. michelle tappin said, on August 4, 2009 at 1:13 am

    No, you don’t. That’s the power of images. However this “fakery” on the part of Capa serves as a reminder that the artist’s power should be borne responsibly. However if one examines the intent can we say the the end justifies the means?

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