Robert Capa

Special Envoy of Holiday

In 1951, Deauville was one of France's most prominent and popular destinations.

The seaside resort attracts an international clientele thanks to its casino, its glamorous parties and its horse races, as well as a bourgeois population fond of sea bathing and entertainment on its boards. Celebrities rubbed shoulders with families. Robert Capa, the famous photojournalist who had covered the Allied landings on the beaches of Normandy six years earlier, arrived in August for a report for the American magazine Holiday. With its dazzling and very pop colors, this magazine was a dream for its readers who perceived it as a true hymn to life. Holiday collaborated with some of the best photographers of our time and won over a million readers.

For this report, Robert Capa is in charge of taking the photographs and writing the article. The text is joyful, light and undoubtedly exaggerated, but revealing of his qualities as a storyteller. Beyond the leisure and entertainment of high society in Deauville, he was also interested in the social mix, in what he describes as "the rich and the poor playing side by side". The reportage includes a few hundred shots now archived at the International Center of Photography in New York. Twenty-three were exhibited in Deauville in 2011 on the Planches between June and September.

"In the evening at the casino, in the clubs, in the restaurants, one sees only the rich, the parvenus, the desperate bourgeoisie, the playboys, the pinups and the professionals. In the afternoon at the racetrack, everyone is there again, this time with the locals, and almost the entire population of Trouville, (...) The racetrack is democracy, the real thing."

Robert Capa was born in 1913 in Budapest, under the name of Endre Friedmann. He moved to Paris in 1933 where he met other photographers: André Kertesz, David Seymour (nicknamed Chim) and Henri Cartier-Bresson. He photographed five wars: the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), the Chinese resistance to the Japanese invasion (1938), the Second World War in Europe (1941-1945), the First Arab-Israeli War (1948) and the Indochina War (1954), where he died after stepping on a mine on May 25, 1954, at the age of 40.


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