Cornell Capa’s photographs are iconic for their intelligence and compassion. Before founding New York City’s International Center of Photography, Capa’s spent two decades working for Life, travelling around the U.S and across the world. Pictured here, in London 1952, when he captured a fragile moment with Alec Guinness, who became one of the best-known English actors of the 20th Century.

I am not an artist, and I never intended to be one

Cornell Capa
© Cornell Capa | Magnum Photos

Cornell Capa was born Cornell Friedmann to a Jewish family in Budapest. In 1936, he moved to Paris, where his brother Andre (Robert Capa) was working as a photojournalist. Capa worked as his brother’s printer until 1937, then moved to New York to join the new Pix photo agency. In 1938, he began working in the Life darkroom. Soon his first photo-story on the New York World’s Fair was published in Picture Post.

Over the course of his long career, he explored subjects as varied as old age in America, Judaism, the electoral campaigns of John and Robert Kennedy, ruthless Wall Street bankers and the destruction of indigenous Amazon cultures.

In 1974, Capa founded New York City’s influential International Center of Photography, to which he dedicated his considerable energy as its director. He joined Magnum in 1954, following the death of his brother.

© Cornell Capa | Magnum Photos

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