The OPC in 1968

What could possibly be hiding under there?

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Ah, there he is. . .Bob! Robert Capa!

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In 1968 the Robert Capa Award [artifact] had a new unveiling to a special select audience of the OPC – Overseas Press Club, Inc. Cornell Capa introduced the new bronze Robert Capa award to a crowded and excited room. In the room that day according to the unknown documenting photographer there was an as yet unidentified blonde woman coyly flirting with the very handsome Robert Capa trophy.

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The Robert Capa Gold Medal is an award for the “best published photographic reporting from abroad requiring exceptional courage and enterprise”. It has been awarded annually since 1955 by the Overseas Press Club of America Inc. (OPC) to a war photographer/photojournalist of merit. The award was created in honour of Robert Capa and the first Gold Medal was awarded in 1955 to Howard Sochurek. In 2015 the award was given to Bassam Khabieh. Previous winners of the prestigious Robert Capa Award include: Yung Su Kwon, James Nachtwey, Larry Burrows, W.Eugene Smith, Susan Meiselas, Steve McCurry, Christopher Morris and Carolyn Cole amongst many others. In 1969 the Robert Capa Award was given to an anonymous Czech photographer who had had his negatives smuggled out of Prague and published anonymously in The Sunday Times Magazine under the initials P. P. (Prague Photographer) for fear of reprisal to him and his family. The 1969 award winner was later revealed to be none other than the legendary Josef Koudelka.

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The Overseas Press Club of America Inc, (OPC) was founded in 1939 in New York by a group of foreign correspondents. In 1967 the Overseas Press Club of America awarded the “Robert Capa Award for Superlative still photography requiring exceptional courage and enterprise abroad” to David Douglas Duncan. The award ceremony took place in 1968 and in that year the Chairman of the Overseas Press of America Inc., was the charming Cornell Capa.

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David Douglas Duncan or DDD (born January 23, 1916 -and will be 101 in a few days) is an American photojournalist who is best known for his dramatic war images and combat photography. DDD won the Robert Capa Award of 1967 for his photograph and written story in LIFE from October 27 1967.

Program Guide for the OPC Annual Picture of the Year.

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Cornell invites John G. Morris to be a judge.

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The extremely charismatic OPC Chairman Cornell Capa ‘working the room’ at the awards ceremony in 1968.

 

 

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ASMP and the Declaration of Conscience

The American Society of Magazine Photographers (ASMP) was established in 1944 by a pair of New York based photographers. The ASMP was, and still is dedicated to connecting fellow photojournalists in order to advocate for their rights to decent wages and copyright protection.

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ASMP 1957 Picture Annual, yearly publication highlighting various ASMP members magazine work that year.

Ten years after their formation, from approximately 1954 to 1968, the ASMP was becoming increasingly  troubled by Magazine editors mistreatment of freelance photographers. Cornell Capa was particularly upset by several actions and disagreements with the staff of Time-Life. In an undated note, Capa outlines the escalating issues between photographers and Life Magazine staff members.

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Part of Cornell’s timeline of precipitating events with Time-Life staff.

  • APR. 1954: Ed Thompson releases stories five years old to staff.
  • 1957: Group of freelancers + Mackland reaches agreement to release stories in one week.
  • 1960: [Richard] Pollard [Photo editor at Time-Life] creates “contributing photographers” category with full rights to photographer. Pollard sets up Helen Fennell to assist and facilitate the sale of staff and freelancer’s stories, as a most helpful move to photographers working for Time Inc. Up to this point all signs pointed to a most liberal era of handling photographers.
  • 1962: Jim Linene’s memo abrogating all previous understandings including the “Thompson memo” of 1954.
  • 1963: The beginning of Time-Life syndication, which began the era of making arrangements to hold and sell Life stories (staff + non-staff).
  • 1964: “Time+ Life book assignments letter” requiring “all rights”
  • 1967: Abolishing of “life contributing photographer” category. Time Magazine’s memo to stringers and buileaus [sic], referring to a linen memo, requiring “all rights” to all black-white takes now.

In light of these disagreements, the ASMP Board of Governors, Cornell Capa, ASMP President Toni Ficalora, and ASMP lawyer Howard Squadron decided to draft a “Declaration of Conscience.” The Declaration was released on December 2, 1967, and included the list of resolutions decided on by the board. The Declaration highlighted the board’s desire that magazines engage in rightful payment and respect of copyright of photojournalists. Copies of the declaration and personalized letters were mailed to editors of major picture-publishing magazines, including National Geographic, Sports Illustrated and (perhaps most pointedly), Life Magazine Photography Director Richard O. Pollard.

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Draft of “A Declaration of Conscience.”

In the letter addressed to Richard Pollard, ASMP president Toni Ficalora stated:

“…For several months. the ASMP has been receiving complaints information from members and other photographers that a number of publishers — including Time, Inc. -are increasing economic pressure to retain all rights to photographs. We have received confirming evidence in the form of memos and proposed contracts prepared by various publishers. I wish I could transmit to you the feeling of sorrow I had talking to a number of photographers whose pride as artists and men have been compromised, because they have been afraid, as individuals, to express their true belief concerning ownership of their own photographs…”

On December 3rd, 1967, the Declaration of Conscience (including a list of supporting photographers) and the Photographers’ Bill of Rights was mailed to all ASMP members. Signatories to the list included such photographers as Diane Arbus and Edward Steichen, in addition to working photojournalists.

Photographers continued to contact the ASMP to add their name to the list of undersigned photographers. This letter, from Magnum Photographer Marilyn Silverstone, arrived while Silverstone was on assignment in New Delhi, India. (Marilyn Silverstone’s book Ocean of Life can be found in the ICP library! [TR790 .S55 1985])

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Photojournalist, Marilyn Silverstone’s request to be added to ASMP’s undersigned photographers

The Declaration of Conscience was published to the public in the January issue of Infinity, ASMP’s monthly magazine. Although this effort did create a dialogue between editor and photographer, the squabbles continued, and Capa ultimately departed Life Magazine in November 11, 1968.

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Cornell Capa’s copy of January 1968 issue of Infinity, including “A Declaration of Conscience” and “Photographers’ Bill of Rights”

The resignation came first in a memo to friends and colleagues wherein Capa announces “he has severed his working relations with Life Magazine and requested that his name be removed from the masthead.” In closing Capa also states, “If this impotence to be continued, we may consider the use of an epitaph on our tombstone, a quote from an unnamed assignment editor of Life: ‘Photographers will never stand together’. I did not think he was right.”

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Young Capa

Combing the Cornell Capa papers, we came across an envelope with a mysterious note. One Emery Florian from Jackson Heights, Queens writes to Edie and Cornell: cornell_capa_papers-class_portrait-01

Dear Everyone of You:

Enclosed is a very valuable photo which was taken a couple of years ago. I wish we would be that young again!

After you have enjoyed the picture, please return it or call us. I would like to introduce my wife to you – why don’t we go out one day?

Unfortunately for Florian, the photo was not returned but I hope he and his old friend were able to reconnect after relocated in the United States.

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Class of 1935-1936

Can any astute readers identify our hero, Cornell Capa? This archivist always starts by looking for those distinct eyebrows…

Keep reading to find out which young student grew up to be the founder of ICP.

Continue reading

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The Documentary Aesthetic of Walker Evans

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In the fall of 1971 there was an amazing photography lecture series hosted at NYU by the International Fund for Concerned Photography Inc.  The lecture series was the Concerned Photographer III iteration and the line-up was filled with photographic stars. A Walker Evans lecture took place on the auspicious day of November 18th 1971.

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Cornell Capa in correspondence with Walker Evans suggested “Documentary Aesthetic” as the title listing for his lecture.

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It is great to see two legends like Walker Evans and Cornell Capa in such animated conversation. I love this image of Walker Evans and his cup and his thermos beside him.

Walker Evans was having a great year in 1971. His career retrospective “Photographs by Walker Evans” images selected and installed by John Szarkowski opened at the Museum of Modern Art (January 27 through April 11, 1971) containing two hundred of his photographs from 1924 to the present.

“It is ourselves we see, ourselves lifted from a parochial setting. We see what we have not heretofore realized, ourselves made worthy in our anonymity.” — William Carlos Williams, writing about Walker Evans’ photographs (1938).

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The kids in class in 1971 looked like this. . .

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Walker Evans is one of the greatest photographers of all time and he is the documentary visionary of American photography. He is the creator of an encyclopedic visual catalogue of modern America. During the 1930s Walker Evans was one of the extraordinary photographers employed during the Depression for the Farm Security Administration’s photographic unit to record the life of the rural American poor. His work is an amazing record of twentieth century America and it is also filled with subtle poetic nuances that still resonate today. The Estate of Walker Evans handed over its entire holdings to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1994.

Some Walker Evans History & Facts

1903 November 3rd Walker Evans was born in ST. Louis, Missouri. Walker Evans grew up in Toledo, Chicago, and New York City.

1926 Walker Evans lives in Paris for a year with the intention of becoming a writer.

1927 Returns to New York and gets a job as a clerk for a stockbroker firm in Wall Street until 1929 and the economic crash.

1928 Walker Evans takes his first photographs with a small hand-held, roll-film camera.

1930 His first publication of three photographs (Brooklyn Bridge) in the poetry book The Bridge by Hart Crane.

1931 Evans completes a photo series of Victorian houses in the Boston vicinity. Evans shares studio in Greenwich Village with FSA photographer Ben Shahn (through 1932).

1933 Photographic trip to Havana, Cuba – provides illustrations for Carleton Beals’s book The Crime of Cuba. Meets with Robert Capa’s good friend Mr. Ernest Hemingway.

1935 Walker Evans begins a photographic tour of the Southern American states.

1936 July/August: three-week stay with sharecropper families in Hale County, Alabama, together with James Agee.

1938 “Walker Evans: American Photographs,” exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, the first exhibition in this museum devoted to the work of a single photographer. Exhibition catalogue published with an essay by Lincoln Kirstein.

1941 “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men” is published by Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston.

1943 Articles for Time magazine (through 1944).

1945- 1965 Walker Evans works continuously as a phototgrapher for Fortune.

1948 Exhibition (retrospective) at the Art Institute of Chicago.

1950 Walker Evans produces a photo series of the American industrial landscape seen as though from the window of a moving train.

1965 Walker Evans becomes a Professor of photography on the Faculty for Graphic Design at the Yale School of Art and Architecture.

1966 “Many are Called” is published. Publication in book form of his subway photographs.

1971 Walker Evans, exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Catalog with an essay by John Szarkowski.

1971 Walker Evans lecture in the Fall at NYU as part of the Concerned Photographer III series.

1975 April 10: Walker Evans dies in New Haven, Connecticut.

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Margin of Life

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Margin of Life was a book (published in both English and Spanish) and an exhibition by Cornell Capa. It was produced to coincide with World Population year in 1974 and an International Fund for Concerned Photography Task Force was set up for the occasion which worked with the International Population Program at Cornell University. The project was essentially about social justice and planned-parenthood.

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“It’s not the slums that are marginal,
it’s the people, it’s us . . .
We are on the margin of health,
The margin of education,
the margin of work;
We cry to the four winds
That we don’t  want to be marginal . . .”
Slum dwellers’ petition to Congress (p.7)

Margin of life:  population and poverty in the Americas / photographs by Cornell Capa ; text by J. Mayone Stycos. New York.  Grossman Publishers, 1974.  TR820.5.S63 .C36 1974

An event took place a The Center for Inter-American Relations on September 9th 1974 with an opportunity to see some of the photographs from the project exhibited and a panel discussion on planned-parenthood.

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For the 1975 exhibition, Margin Of Life was billed as a “One Man Show: Cornell Capa, Margin Of Life” from the Soho Photo Foundation held at the Alfred Stieglitz Gallery, December 7th to December 30th 1975. The show was installed on December 5th according to the photographer. The dutiful photographer signed and dated the contact sheets of the installation. It is great to see Cornell working away with a hammer and to see him being there and totally involved with the installation process (even if the photographs are a little cloudy and somewhat of a poor quality *. . .). In these installations shots alongside Cornell we see the ever constant support that he always received from Edie Capa and how she always there and involved with all of Cornell’s projects. Images like this are a great behind-the-scenes insight for researchers and historians as they give us a real sense of just how it all happened back then.

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“Images at their passionate and truthful best are as powerful as words can ever be. If they alone cannot bring change, they can at least provide and understanding mirror of man’s actions, thereby sharpening human awareness and awakening conscience.”  – Cornell Capa

Margin of Life is not a happy or hopeful book/exhibition but it is exacting in its reality and stark portrayal of the grim problems that faced Latin America then and now. What the poor want and what they need are good jobs, houses, schools, healthcare, welfare, land reform, hope and ideology. What the poor are getting is the opportunity to become poorer. Margin of Life is a journey through the issues of poverty and population, war and colonization, working women and birth control. The conclusion at the time of publication was the need for radical action and here we are now over forty years later and still waiting.

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* If you are wondering about the poor quality of the installation shot images [only teasing!]. . .Photography credit for the photos goes to . . .

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The Supreme Court Vs. Ralph Ginzburg

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Working through the papers of Cornell Capa I came across a folder marked with big bold sharpie drawn letters ‘Ralph Ginzburg’. There were not a lot of materials in the folder, mainly newspaper clippings about what was happening to Ginzburg and some notes between Ralph and Cornell.

This new discovery in the Cornell Capa Papers made me think again about the Ginzburg story. I had written about Ralph Ginzburg and his periodical Eros in a post on this blog  ”Passion” in June 2014 https://icplibrary.wordpress.com/2014/06/17/passion/

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The Story. . . Ralph Ginzburg (1929 –2006) was an author, editor, publisher and photo-journalist. In 1962, Ralph Ginzburg after years working for magazine such as Esquire, Harpers, Colliers, LOOK and readers digest began his own publication Eros. Eros was a quarterly hardbound periodical containing stories, articles and photo-essays on love and sex.

“Contributions included a manuscript given by the Bishop of Exeter to his cathedral in 1070, an interview with Bobby Fischer, an introduction by psychoanalyst Theodor Reik, a short story by Ray Bradbury, a photo essay by Marvin Newman, Bert Stern images of Marilyn Monroe, Love in the Subway a photographic essay by Gary Winogrand, Me and the Male Prostitutes of Bombay by Art Kane, The Agonies and the Ecstasies of a Stripper by Nicholas David”

There were only ever four issues of Eros published and by the time of issue no.4 Ginzburg was indicted for distributing obscene literature through the mails under federal obscenity laws.

U.S Attorney General Robert Kennedy indicted Ginzburg for distributing obscene literature through the mails, in violation of federal anti-obscenity laws. The indictment comprised three allegations of obscenity:  First, publication of Volume I, No. 4, of Eros; second, publication of his newsletter Liaison; and third The Houswife’s Handbook on Selective Promiscuity.  It was considered that the mailed advertisements for Eros had exaggerated the erotic content of the book in such a way as to appeal to “prurient interests”. The advertising of Eros apparently emphasized the sexual imagery of the publications. The quarterly included a guarantee of a full refund inserted into each magazine.  On a postcard sized slip there was an advertisement labeled “GUARANTEE” which stated that “Documentary Books, Inc. unconditionally guarantees full refund of the price if the book fails to reach you because of U.S. Post Office censorship interference.”

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After a brief trial in June 1962, Ginzburg was convicted in the city of Philadelphia by the U.S. Court for the Eastern District of Pensa-Tucky for violating federal obscenity laws. He was sentenced to five years in prison but ultimately served only eight months of that sentence. [God knows what the righteous VP Elect and Grand inquisitor Pence would have made of it all].  After various appeals, the case was argued before the Supreme Court in 1965, and in 1966 Mr. Ginzburg’s conviction was upheld. Despite protests by First Amendment advocates, he served eight months in a federal prison in 1972 after the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of his sentence.

It has been suggested that the real issue with Eros was that in Eros No. 4 (Winter, 1962) included ‘an eight-page “photographic tone poem”‘ titled “Black and White in Color”, featuring a nude couple (no genitalia shown), but the girl was white and the man was African-American. Would there have been persecution and prosecution if the photographs had featured a couple of the same colour? This was after all a challenge to the taboo of interracial love. The same publication also included a previously suppressed portfolio of nude photographs of Marilyn Monroe, taken by Bert Stern. (Intriguingly it was U.S Attorney General Robert Kennedy who indicted Ginzburg – can you feel the synergy here?). Clearly nudity wasn’t the issue.

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The same periodical also included a delightful letter from the most reverend Allen Ginsberg. Ginzburg also published many of the responses that he received from those outstanding citizens protecting the morality of America. Allen Ginsberg later protested the incarceration of Ginzburg in Washington DC. Somebody had to speak out against the morality madness. Who better than a Ginsberg namesake?

“I have always felt that I might have become a major force in American publishing had it not been for my conviction. Instead, I’m just a curious footnote.”
– Ralph Ginzburg.

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Ralph Ginzburg retired at 55 from publishing and pursued a career as a photojournalist specializing in New York scenes and sporting events. He worked mainly for the New York post as a freelance spot-news photographer until his death. His first self-published book was “100 Years of Lynching,” a compilation of newspaper accounts that exposed American racism.

Four Volumes of Eros Magazine in the ICP Library
Eros magazine was produced in 1962, consisting of four volumes:
Eros – Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.
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December 7th is Noam Chomsky Day!

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The Concerns of Roman Vishniac

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The Concerns of Roman Vishniac: Man, Nature and Science was a project directed by Cornell Capa. It was an exhibition organized by and promoted under the umbrella of The International Fund for Concerned Photography. The exhibition opened at the Jewish Museum in New York in 1971.

The Concerns of Roman Vishniac was also part of what was known as Concerned Photographer III. The first two iterations of the Concerned Photographer had publications the third and the fourth were a series of special programs, lectures, seminars and master Classes. The Concerns of Roman Vishniac was a master class that was produced in cooperation with New York University School of Continuing Education.

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