Kati Horna and the Spanish Civil War: Forget the Decisive Moment — Why Not a Domestic One?

THE DAILY PIC: The Horna survey at the Americas Society is a sleeper show that wakes you up.

THE DAILY PIC (#1664): “Told and Untold: The Photo Stories of Kati Horna in the Illustrated Press,” at the Americas Society, must be just about the least-noticed show of the New York season. (Its clunky title is not helping things.) But it is actually a fascinating survey of Horna’s literally wide-ranging talents – born in Budapest, she worked as a photographer in Germany and Spain and then mostly in Mexico. She died there at age 88 in the year 2000.

Today’s Pic was taken in 1937, when Horna was embedded with the Republican army during Spain’s civil war. I chose it because it’s the perfect, cheery counterpoint for Robert Capa’s much more famous (and very possibly staged) image of a Republican soldier at the moment he’s shot. Capa’s photo makes special emotional sense as we look back on a war that we know will be lost to Fascism. Horna’s hints that, to the people involved in the fighting, that tragic loss was no forgone conclusion. That Friedlanderish thistle, so brilliantly planted dead center in the frame, is a model of the Republicans’ thorny fortitude. (Private collection, Mexico City © 2005 Ana María Norah Horna y Fernández)

For a full survey of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.


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