Photographer Cornell Capa died on Friday, but his legacy lives on in the museum he founded — the International Center of Photography in New York City — and in the images he'd taken during a quarter-century with Life magazine.
Capa covered everything from a coup d'etat in Argentina to the Six-Day War in the Middle East, from political portraits of Adlai Stevenson to celebrity shots of Marilyn Monroe.
In an interview in 1994, NPR's Jacki Lyden asked if he was ever haunted by what he'd seen through his lens.
"I remember every picture that I have ever taken," he said. "It is a terrible load to carry."
Cornell Capa was born in Hungary in 1918, five years after his brother Robert, a war photographer known for his images during the Spanish Civil War.
Cornell Capa focused his camera on scenes of politics and social justice. He chronicled the plight of mentally ill children in Russia and the presidential campaign of John F. Kennedy.
Capa told Lyden about a philosophy he called "The Concerned Photographer"; he rejected the idea of being detached and objective.
"To really be a passioned person, you can't really be objective. And if you're objective, your pictures will not be very passionate," he said. "War, poverty, crime, drugs — the world is going around the same axis all the time, and the concerned photographer is going to make the world visible to everybody. Maybe they're going to end wars, maybe they're going to end poverty, and we are going to end all kinds of famine because the power of photography. It didn't quite work out that way."
"It is frustrating, but the concerned photographers who are caring about the survival of the human race in spite of all the plagues that confront it, but we can't fix it," he said. "Of course we can't because nobody can fix it, but we make you aware of it and their eyewitness is to bring it to you. Maybe you realize what it's all about."
Capa died Friday at his home in Manhattan. He'd been battling Parkinson's disease. He was 90.