GERDA TARO – Shots in the shade of a legend (Robert Capa)

Thursday, 12 September 2013
by Silvio Zappi
Gerda Taro in Guadalajara Juli 1937
Gerda Taro (real name Gerta Pohorylle) was born in Germany in 1911. She is defined as one of the first war photographer and she is still remembered for his political commitment to opposition to fascism. Jewish and coming from a middle-class family, was arrested in 1933 accused of propaganda against the Nazi regime and subversive activities; once at liberty soon finds refuge in the Paris of the '30s, home of a cultural and artistic enthusiasm fueled by a variety of motivated artists, intellectuals and photographers from around the world.

It was in Paris that met the man of her life, Endre Friedmann, a Hungarian photographer, Jewish like her and two years younger, in search of affirmation. A photographer as there were many, but that soon Gerda turned into legend. In fact, she proposed to Friedmann a commercial expedient inventing an imaginary successful photographer, and pretending (under the name of Gerda Taro) as assistants of the unreal character. Unfortunately, the strategy brought international fame only to him, after few years he became the greatest war photographer of all time - in fact the name of the invented photographer was Robert Capa.

Soon Gerda and Endre began to earn money by signing their photos with the brand name "Capa - Taro" but later Friedmann adopted the pseudonym only for himself, professionally detaching his life from Gerda. Even today we find it difficult to attribute properly the shots, so that it has been doubted even the most controversial and famous shot of Robert Capa, icon of the Spanish Civil War, "The falling soldier". In 1936, after signing the contract with the magazines "Regards" and "Vu", they left Paris to document the Spanish Civil War by way of a photo-camera. It was in this context that Gerda was able to take the short photojournalist career, telling stories that saw her also engaged as an active participant next to the fighters. And just in retraction from Brunete (small city around Madrid), where he made his last and most important reportage, Gerda lost his life a few days before reaching 27 years of age. A life ended too quickly because of a trivial and bloody incident in the street, who did Gerda's the first female photojournalist to die on the field, a destiny that, a few years later, had also her partner Robert Capa.

Gerda Taro, repubblican bombers in the district of Carabanchel, Madrid, June 1937

A woman who lived in the shadow of a myth and that until a few years ago was remembered only for being next to Robert Capa. Only in recent years it has been started to give proper emphasis to the human and professional qualities of Gerda Taro and some of his biographies have been published. In 2010 a novel about the relationship Photographer Capa - Taro, entitled "Waiting for Robert Capa", has been published (by Susana Fortes) and in 2012 the British band Δ (Alt -J) has composed the song "Taro" (album An Awesome Wave) dedicating it to the German photographer.
Today Gerda Taro is buried in the area dedicated to the revolutionaries and the Resistance, near the famous Mur des Fédérés, of the famous Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris where, on the day of his funeral, Pablo Neruda and Louis Aragon read, in front of 200 thousand people, the speech funeral.
©2013 Silvio Zappi

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