© Robert Capa

Special envoy for the Holiday magazine

In 1951, Deauville was one of the most prized and popular destinations in France.

The seaside resort attracted an international clientele thanks to its casino, its glamorous parties, horse races, and bourgeois population fond of sea baths and animations on the "Planches" boardwalk. Celebrities mingled with families. Robert Capa, famous photo reporter who had covered the Ally Landing on the Normandy beaches six years earlier, arrived in August for a report ordered by the American magazine Holiday. With its vivid pop-art colors, the magazine was very appreciated by its readers, who considered it as a true ode to life. Holiday collaborated with some of the best photographers of our time reaching over a million readers.

For this report, Robert Capa was commissioned for the photos and the article. The text he wrote is joyful and light, undoubtedly exaggerated, but revealed his storytelling qualities. Independent from the leisure and distractions of the higher society in Deauville, he was fascinated by the social mix, which he described as “the rich and the poor playing side by side”. The report included a few hundred photographs which are now stored at the International Center of Photography of New York. Twenty three of them were exhibited in Deauville in 2011 on the Planches boardwalk between June and September.

In the evening, at the casino, the nightclubs and restaurants, only the rich, the parvenus, the desperate bourgeoisie, playboys, pinups, and professionals are found. In the afternoon, all these people gather again in the racecources, this time mixing with the locals, and almost the entire population of Trouville (…). The racecourse is the only true democracy...”

Robert Capa was born in 1913 in Budapest under the name of Endre Friedman. He settled in Paris in 1933 where he met other photographers: André Kertesz, David Seymour (nicknamed Chim) and Henri Cartier-Bresson. He covered five wars: the civil war in Spain (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 landmine on May 25th 1954, at the age of 40.