Legendary photographer Cornell Capa is known for his intelligent and compassionate images. 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. His greatest interests were politics and social issues, where he documented honest and intimate portraits of the city in which he lived. Pictured here, a Hebrew lesson, in Brooklyn, New York, 1955.

One thing that Life and I agreed right from the start was that one war photographer was enough for my family; I was to be a photographer of peace

Cornell Capa
© Cornell Capa | Magnum Photos

Cornell Capa was born to a Jewish family in Budapest. In 1936, he moved to Paris, where his brother, 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 1946, after serving in the US Air Force, Cornell became a Life staff photographer. After his brother’s death in 1954, he joined Magnum, and when David ‘Chim’ Seymour died in Suez in 1956 Capa took over as president of Magnum, a post he held until 1960.

Capa covered the electoral campaigns of John and Robert Kennedy, Adlai Stevenson and Nelson Rockefeller, among others. His 1969 book, New Breed on Wall Street, was a landmark study of a generation of ruthless young entrepreneurs keen on making money and spending it fast.

In 1974, Capa founded New York City’s influential International Center of Photography, to which for many years he dedicated much of his considerable energy as its director.

© Cornell Capa | Magnum Photos

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