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img414Cornell Capa (1918-2008) deserves more attention among photo book collectors, in my opinion.

To most collectors he is better known for being the editor of The Concerned Photographer Exhibition and Catalog (1968) and the brother of Robert Capa his very very famous older brother and photographer. In the introduction to the Concerned Photographers Exhibition, Cornell Capa writes the following:

“The Fund for Concerned Photography and the Concerned Photographer Exhibit and book were born out of respect for the images of the past, anxiety for the photographic direction of the present, and concern about the existence of true documentation of the future. It is the beginning of an answer to the question posed.”

The book Farewell to Eden written by Matthew Huxley, photographs and photographically edited by Cornell Capa was published in 1964. Our copy does not have the dust jacket for this hardbound book printed in Switzerland by Conzett and Huber. Those looking for an index that identifies the photos done by Capa will only be disappointed. Other photographers contributed to the photos in the book. Was it perhaps Capa’s intention that this would be viewed as a collaborative work with all parts being equal?

The book is the first attempt to chart the history photographically of the Native Indian Tribes living in the Peruvian Andes, to be exact the Varadero Region.

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The book has a number of color photographs besides black and white photos. The back of the book features a sort of dictionary-pronunciation page. With 244 pages, the book offers a complete and well written story describing all aspects of the lives of these “primitive tribes”.

This book is similar in attempt perhaps to the more famous book by photographer Ed van der Elsken titled Bagara (1958) that preceded Capa’s book. The Bagara book describes life in backward French Equatorial Africa. The photos in the Capa book show a fair bit of nudity always photographed in a respectful way but perhaps some sensitive soul reading this and viewing them would not agree and controversy is not what we need more of today, in my opinion.

Those photos could be considered “politically incorrect” by some people in showing native nude people in their natural habitat, assuming if there is such a place left on the planet today. Cornell Capa, a world traveler in his own right, knew what a real paradise was when he photographed it for all of us, and thus gracefully reminded us what true documentation can and should be. Certainly not those things presented to us by the mainstream media muggers of the current talking head cartel. (bet you like that last sentence so feel free to use it)

Besides a photographer, Cornell Capa was also the co-founder of the International Center of Photography in New York in 1974.

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