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A Secret Archive: On the Mexican Suitcase

For seven decades the negatives – known as "The Mexican Suitcase" – were considered lost. The photographs document the duration of the Spanish war, beginning with David Seymour's pictures of marching Republican dignitaries in April 1936, three months before the conflict broke out, and ending with Robert Capa's portraits of Republican refugees in concentration camps in Southern France in March 1939. Dan Kaufman tells the story of "The Mexican Suitcase" and describes the photographs hidden in it for such a long time.

Published on 13 Jan. 2011

Dan Kaufman in The Nation


“In the spring of 1942, Gen. Francisco Aguilar González, the Mexican ambassador to the Vichy government, left France to return to Mexico with his wife, Maria. The couple traveled through newly Fascist Spain to Lisbon, where she boarded a steamer bound for New York, with twenty trunks of their belongings, while the general made his way back across Spain, through France and then to London, eventually flying to New York for their rendezvous. In New York they boarded a passenger train with their belongings and traveled across the United States and Mexico before finally arriving at their home in Mexico City. Tucked away in one of the trunks and kept hidden for nearly seventy years were three small cardboard boxes given to Aguilar for safekeeping. They contained an archive of 4,500 negatives of photographs of the Spanish Civil War taken by three extraordinary photojournalists: Robert Capa, Gerda Taro and David Seymour (known as Chim).”

For seven decades the negatives – known as “The Mexican Suitcase” – were considered lost. The photographs document the duration of the Spanish Civil War, beginning with Seymour's pictures of marching Republican dignitaries in April 1936, three months before the conflict broke out, and ending with Capa's portraits of Republican refugees in concentration camps in Southern France in March 1939.

Dan Kaufman tells the story of “The Mexican Suitcase” and describes the photographs hidden in it for such a long time (with a slide show “A Secret Archive: Images From the Mexican Suitcase”)

Read the whole article:

>>> A Secret Archive: On the Mexican Suitcase, by Dan Kaufman in The Nation (January 5, 2011)

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