American Troops, Omaha Beach, France, 1944
11 x 14 inches (28 x 35.5 cm)
Robert Capa shared a darkroom with Henri Cartier-Bresson and Chim (David Seymour) in Paris in 1933. He worked regularly as a photojournalist, and made several trips to Spain to document the civil war. His photographs from this conflict, including his most famous image, Death of a Loyalist Soldier (1936), were heralded for their stunning impact; Picture Post termed him ‘the greatest war photographer in the world.’ When World War II began, he moved to America and worked for LIFE, Time, and other publications. From 1941-1946 he was a war correspondent for LIFE and Collier’s, travelling with the US Army and documenting Allied victories in North Africa, the Allied landing at Normandy and the Allied victories of Leipzig, Nuremberg, and Berlin. After the war, Capa joined Henri Cartier-Bresson, David Seymour and George Rodger in founding Magnum. He travelled to Hanoi in 1954 to photograph the French war in Indochina for LIFE; shortly after his arrival, he was killed trafically after stepping on a land mine.
His photographs of US forces’ assault on Omaha Beach on D-Day, June 6 1944, are an invaluable historic record of the Allied invasion of German-occupied France, which contributed to the liberation of Western Europe from Nazi control a year later. The largest seaborne attack in history, it was also one of the bloodiest, with a combination of strong winds, unruly tidal currents and a formidable German defensive, resulting in the loss of 2,400 American lives by the end of the first day. Capa’s legendary documentation of the event saw him join the soldiers as they advanced, experiencing the landing on Omaha Beach alongside them as he photographed the scene. “Between floating bodies I reached it, paused for a few more pictures, and gathered my guts for the last jump to the beach,” Capa wrote.