New Doubts Raised Over Falling Soldier Photo

Photography is not the map of the territory1 – part the 23423th.

After nearly three-quarters of a century Robert Capa’s “Falling Soldier” picture from the Spanish Civil War remains one of the most famous images of combat ever. It is also one of the most debated, with a long string of critics claiming that the photo, of a soldier seemingly at the moment of death, was faked. Now, a new book by a Spanish researcher asserts that the picture could not have been made where, when or how Capa’s admirers and heirs have claimed.

Robert Capa -Falling Soldier.jpg
Robert Capa/Magnum Photos

Robert Capa’s “Falling Soldier,” from the Spanish Civil War has drawn both acclaim and questions over its veracity.

In “Shadows of Photography,” José Manuel Susperregui, a communications professor at the Universidad del País Vasco, concludes that Capa’s picture was taken not at Cerro Muriano, just north of Córdoba, but near another town, about 35 miles away. Since that location was far from the battle lines when Capa was there, Mr. Susperregui said, it means that “the ‘Falling Soldier’ photo is staged, as are all the others in the series taken on that front.”

Experts at the International Center of Photography in Manhattan, where Capa’s archive is stored, said they found some aspects of Mr. Susperregui’s investigation intriguing or even convincing. But they continue to believe that the image seen in “Falling Soldier” is genuine, and caution against jumping to conclusions. “Part of what is difficult about this is that people are saying, ‘Well if it’s not here, but there, then, good God, it’s fabricated,’ ” Willis E. Hartshorn, the center’s director, said in an interview. “That’s a leap that I think needs a lot more research and a lot more study.”

[Click to continue reading New Doubts Raised Over Capa’s ‘Falling Soldier’ –]

I want Errol Morris to write a 40,000 word monograph examining the evidence for his New York Times blog, like he’s done on previous historical photographs2

  1. a horrible butchery of the phrase: The Map is Not the Territory by philosopher Alfred Korzybski []
  2. link to a three part Morris blog discussing Roger Fenton’s photograph: Valley of the Shadow of Death in the Crimea []

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