What’s in the ‘Mexican Suitcase’?


A treasure trove of Spanish Civil War negatives (and not only!) by Capa, Seymour, and Taro.

Gerda Taro, Training of the New People’s Army, Valencia, March 1937. © International Center of Photography. International Center of Photography via ICP

The Mexican Suitcase was in fact three boxes which contained 4,500 negatives including some of the most important works by Robert Capa, David Seymour, and Gerda Taro, then still three young photographers who risked their lives to show the world its history in the making.

David Seymour, Mother nursing a baby while listening to political speech, near Badajoz, Extremadura, Spain, late April–early May 1936. © Estate of David Seymour / Magnum. International Center of Photography via ICP

Considered lost since 1939, the boxes contained the most famous group of recovered negatives of the twentieth century. The contents demonstrate how the work of Capa, Seymour and Taro laid the foundation for modern war photography and documented a turning point in the history of photojournalism.

Fred Stein, Gerda Taro and Robert Capa on the terrace of Café du Dôme in Montparnasse, Paris, early 1936. © Estate of Fred Stein. International Center of Photography via ICP

Together with images of war, several portraits of Capa and Taro by Fred Stein, as well as previously unknown portraits of Ernest Hemingway and Federico Garcia Lorca, were also in the boxes.

Robert Capa, Ernest Hemingway (third from the left), New York Times journalist Herbert Matthews and two Republican soldiers, Teruel, Spain, late December 1937. © Estate of Cornell Capa / ICP/ Magnum. International Center of Photography via ICP
Robert Capa, Exiled Republicans being marched on the beach from one internment camp, Le Barcarès, France, March 1939. © Estate of Cornell Capa / ICP / Magnum, International Center of Photography via ICP

The Mexican Suitcase, an exhibition previously shown at Rencontres d’Arles Photographie in 2009 and at the ICP between 2010 and 2011, presents most of the negatives as modern contact sheets. It contains both vintage prints from the ICP collection and contemporary prints, along with the photographers’ own rarely seen contact notebooks.

This coming October, the exhibition will be traveling to the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, Barcelona, followed by the Circulo de Bellas, Madrid in July 2012 and the Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaïsme, Paris, in February 2013.

via ICP

A fully illustrated two-volume catalogue in which all the negatives in the suitcase are reproduced is published by ICP/Steidl and accompanies the exhibition. The images are accompanied by essays from twenty-two experts on the Spanish Civil War and 1930s photography.

For further information visit the website of the International Center of Photography.

Related articles here on Lomography.com:
Best of the Best: Robert Capa
Influential Photographs: Falling Soldier, 1936 by Robert Capa
The Mexican Suitcase

written by webo29 on 2011-07-26 #news #barcelona #spain #war #october #civil-war #paris #exhibition #photojournalism #taro #icp #capa #2012 #2013


  1. emilios
    emilios ·

    Nice one!!!!

  2. freyfrey
    freyfrey ·


  3. adi_totp
    adi_totp ·


  4. stevelomo
    stevelomo ·

    Great article. Quite haunting too.

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