Women’s History Month: Gerda Taro

Europe, Photography

NOTE: As March is Women’s History Month here in the United States, I thought I’d acknowledge this by highlighting a few female photographers from the past throughout the month.

Gerda Taro (1910 – 1937)

Gerda Taro was the first female photojournalist to die in battle. On July 25, 1937, she was shooting on the front line of the Spanish Civil War alongside her then partner, fellow photographer Ted Allan. The couple hitched a ride on the running board of a passing car, which was then rammed by an out-of-control tank. Taro was thrown on to the ground and died of her injuries in a field hospital a few hours later. She was 26 years old.

Gerda Taro, Paris, 1935

Gerda Taro, Paris, 1935

Among the mourners at Taro’s funeral in Paris was Robert Capa, the greatest war photographer of his time, and Taro’s former lover and soulmate. While Capa’s place in the canon of 20th-century photography was assured even before his death in action in Indochina in 1954, aged 40, it would take 70 years for Taro to emerge from his shadow and be recognised in her own right role as a pioneering photojournalist.

Republican soldiers resting, Spain, circa 1937

Republican soldiers resting, Spain, circa 1937

While there are numerous references to Taro in the many books on Robert Capa, I am only aware of two books that focus on Taro herself: François Maspero’s Out of the Shadows: A Life of Gerda Taro (Souvenir Press, 2010) and Jane Rogoyska’s Gerda Taro: Inventing Robert Capa (Jonathan Cape, 2013).

Workers in a munitions factory, Madrid, June 1937

Workers in a munitions factory, Madrid, June 1937

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