In late December 2007, three small cardboard boxes arrived at the International Center of Photography from Mexico City after a long and mysterious journey. These tattered boxes–the so-called Mexican Suitcase–contained the legendary Spanish Civil War negatives of Robert Capa. Rumors had circulated for years of the survival of the negatives, which had disappeared from Capa’s Paris studio at the beginning of World War II. Cornell Capa, Robert’s brother and the founder of ICP, had diligently tracked down each tale and vigorously sought out the negatives, but to no avail. When, at last, the boxes were opened for the 89-year-old Cornell Capa, they revealed 126 rolls of film—not only by Robert Capa, but also by Gerda Taro and David Seymour (known as “Chim”), three of the major photographers of the Spanish Civil War. Together, these roles of film constitute an inestimable record of photographic innovation and war photography, but also of the great political struggle to determine the course of Spanish history and to turn back the expansion of global fascism.
– Cynthia Young, Assistant Curator, The Robert Capa and Cornell Capa Archive
Follow the remarkable history of the “Mexican Suitcase” and see images from the negatives on the International Center of Photography Web site.
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