Am I the only one who didn't know about Gerda Taro?

Started Oct 21, 2017 | Discussions thread
John Koch Senior Member • Posts: 1,177
More of Taro in NYC, or online, than Barcelona

Corkcampbell wrote:

Am I the only one who didn't know about Gerda Taro? She came up when I was researching the Spanish Civil War this week in preparation for a trip to Barcelona.

In NYC, the ICP has most documents or artifacts related to Taro. An exhibit circulated among various museums from 2009 to 2013. I doubt you will find much in Barcelona, except perhaps books you might find elsewhere. The ICP's own site offers samples of Taro's work, plus portions of the work of both Capa and Taro .

Take a look at The Mexican Suitcase and maybe this review of the work too .

I probably read about her when I was in college studying the same subject, but my memory...well, you know.

Probably you did not. How many 22 year-olds, even ones obsessed with photography, will have heard of Erich Salomon or Alfred Eisenstaedt, both of them also pioneering photojournalists from the same country as Taro?

In terms of political history, the odds you'd read about Taro are even lower. Few US college graduates have heard of Francisco Franco, the Nationalist leader. Almost none, even among European history majors, would have a clue about Juan Negrín, Manuel Azaña, or other Loyalist leaders, let alone an obscure photographer.  When the late Hugh Thomas wrote his  The Spanish Civil War , in the 1950s, Taro was almost unknown, since much of her and Capa's work was "lost" in a suitcase left in Mexico.

Does the revised 2001 hardcover version of the Thomas book include any of her shots? The narrative probably does not mention her, or maybe not even Capa. Perhaps someone with an eBook version can do a word search and verify.

Apparently, a really interesting photo-related character, who was crushed by a tank while doing her job as a photojournalist during that conflict.

You can call it journalism. Others might call it political activism. There was never any question about which side Capa and Taro favored in the 1936-9 war. Spain has not gotten over some of the rifts or debates. The current PM Rajoy 's party descends from the groups that sided with the Nationalists of that time. Cataluña, again at odds with Madrid, was the last Loyalist region to surrender to the Nationalists years ago. The street protests and arrests are quite a photo op.

I've just ordered two books about her and her relationship with Robert Capa. Readers of this will understand that I'm a little embarrassed at my ignorance. Any input about her will be appreciated.

Taro's "fame" is both post-humus and post-historical, since much, if not most, of her work was uncovered only long after the events they convey.

She died at age 27. A very short career. A German expatriate who, had she gone to the US, instead of Spain, might have lived happily (and unknown) to age 90.

Aren't there dozens or hundreds of other photographers that, despite living to a ripe age, most of us know nothing about? Or there are photographs we see and have no idea who shot them. Or there are photographers who took controversial photos, but became famous for work that avoided controversy.

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