Cuba in Revolution / Rediscovered Spanish Civil War
Rediscovered Spanish Civil War
negatives by Capa, Chim, and Taro
The Mexican Suitcase, a groundbreaking exhibition revealing the most famous group of recovered negatives of the twentieth century, will be on view at the International Center of Photography (1133 Avenue of the Americas at 43rd Street) from September 24, 2010 through January 9, 2011. Considered lost since 1939, the so-called Mexican Suitcase is in fact three boxes containing 4,500 negatives documenting the Spanish Civil War by Robert Capa, Chim (David Seymour), and Gerda Taro. There are also several rolls of portraits of Capa and Taro by Fred Stein. Besides offering new images by these major photographers that provide a comprehensive overview of the war, the cache of negatives also includes previously unknown portraits of Ernest Hemingway, Federico Garcia Lorca, and Dolores Ibarruri (known as “La Pasionaria”).
Capa, Chim, and Taro risked their lives to witness history in the making and show it to the world, and the Mexican Suitcase contains some of their most important works. Its recovery set in motion a profound shift in the study of these three photographers. In the process of researching the negatives, the authorship of numerous images by Capa, Chim, and Taro has been confirmed or reattributed. This material not only provides a uniquely rich and panoramic view of the Spanish Civil War, a conflict that changed the course of European history, but also demonstrates how the work of these legendary photographers laid the foundation for modern war photography. Appearing throughout the international press, their innovative and passionate coverage of the war was both engaged and partisan. While overtly supporting the antifascist Republican cause, their dramatic photographs vividly recorded battle sequences as well as the harrowing effects of the war on civilians.
Equally compelling are the stories of the photographers themselves as revealed through their images: the dashing Capa, the studious Chim, and the intrepid Taro, who died tragically in 1937 during the battle of Brunete. This is the history of three young people and the ties that bound them: the moving personal and artistic relationship between Capa and Taro, and the professional bond that later led Capa and Chim to create Magnum Photos. The material contained in the Mexican Suitcase documents a turning point in the history of photojournalism.
The exhibition will present most of these negatives as modern contact sheets. Because they were lost so long ago, and as no contact sheets were made, these films show us for the first time the order in which the images were conceived and shot, and in some cases the full extent of the photographers’ work on the story. Images that have become iconic over the years can now be read in their original sequence. In addition, all of the films reveal unedited frames, either unpublished or never printed. The exhibition will also include various examples of the original 1930s periodicals in which the work first appeared. These publications—Regards, Vu, Life, Schweizer Illustrierte Zeitung, Volks-Illustrierte—provide an enlightening historical context for the evolving coverage of the war and the growing reliance on the photo essay. The Mexican Suitcase will contain both vintage prints from the ICP collection and contemporary prints, along with the photographers’ own rarely seen contact notebooks.
Also on view will be two rarely seen Spanish Civil War films that used Capa footage and have corresponding stills in the Taro suitcase negatives.
The exhibition is organized by ICP assistant curator Cynthia Young.
A fully illustrated two-volume catalogue will be published by ICP/Steidl to accompany the exhibition. All the negatives in the suitcase will be reproduced, accompanied by essays from twenty-two specialists in the Spanish Civil War and 1930s photography.
This exhibition and its catalogue were made possible with support from the National Endowment for the Arts, Joseph and Joan Cullman Foundation for the Arts, Frank and Mary Ann Arisman, Christian Keesee, and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Additional support was received from Sandy and Ellen Luger, Bruce and Lois Zenkel, the Strand Hotel, New York, the Program for Cultural Cooperation between Spain’s Ministry of Culture and United States Universities, and the Consulate General of Spain in New York.
Cuba in Revolution
Cuba in Revolution, at the International Center of Photography (1133 Avenue of the Americas at 43rd Street) from September 24, 2010 through January 9, 2011, covers one of the most spectacular political events of the twentieth century, the Cuban Revolution of 1959. The improbable overthrow of the dictator Fulgencio Batista by a band of young communist guerrillas and intellectuals was a momentous occasion not only politically but also creatively, changing the way we think about the power of reportage photography and the role of photojournalism in our modern society.
Tracing the movement from the triumphal entry of the rebels into Havana on January 1, 1959, through the abortive Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 and the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962, this exhibition shows the tremendous influence of photography in recording and encouraging the revolutionary movement in Cuba. Cuba in Revolution explores everyday life in Cuba before and after the Revolution and considers the ways in which both Cuban and foreign photojournalists helped construct the image of the Revolution abroad.
More than 180 vintage works by 30 photographers, including important images of pre-Revolutionary Cuba by Constantino Arias, as well as classics by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Raúl Corrales, René Burri, and Burt Glinn are included. Among the outstanding photographs in this collection of vintage prints are Alberto Korda’s famous 1960 portrait of Che Guevara titled Heroic Guerrilla and never-before-seen images of Che’s death in Bolivia in 1967.
The exhibition charts the development of Cuban photography from the early 1950s until 1968, as it positions the work of the most prominent indigenous photographers —Korda, Corrales, Arias, Osvaldo Salas— alongside international photographers and photojournalists such as Cartier-Bresson, Burri, Glinn, Elliott Erwitt, and Flip Schulke. Arias injected a degree of social and political consciousness into his work of the early 1950s that in many ways presaged the concerns of the Revolution by focusing attention on the everyday realities of the Cuban people.
During the Revolution, iconic or even mythological images of the Revolutionary leaders proliferated. Initially, both domestic and foreign photographers had unprecedented access to Fidel Castro and his youthful cohorts, and many of the photographs that were taken at this time capture the do-it-yourself spontaneity of the Revolution. Also included in the show are rarely seen photographs depicting the counterculture of the 1960s that existed clandestinely alongside the sanctioned youth movements of the Revolution. After 1968 and the banning of private enterprise inside Cuba, most authorized photographs of the Revolution were limited to portraits of Castro in his official capacity as head of the Cuban state.
Co-curators—ICP Chief Curator Brian Wallis and Guest Curator Mark Sanders.
Cuba in Revolution is organized by the International Center of Photography in association with The International Art Heritage Foundation.
Image: Chim (David Seymour), [Dolores Ibárruri (La Pasionaria), Madrid], late April–early July 1936. © Estate of David Seymour / Magnum. International Center of Photography
Communications Department 212.857.0045 email@example.com
September 23, 2010 11:30 am–1:00 pm
International Center of Photography
1133 Avenue of the Americas at 43rd Street New York
Tuesday–Thursday: 10:00 am–6:00 pm
Friday: 10:00 am–8:00 pm
Saturday–Sunday: 10:00 am–6:00 pm
Closed: New Year's Day, January 1; Independence Day, July 4; Thanksgiving Day; Christmas Day, December 25.
General Admission: $12
Students and Seniors: $8
Children under 12 Free
Voluntary Contribution Fridays 5:00–8:00 pm