Famous Color Portraits Prove Photography Has The Power To Bring History Back To Life

01/28/2014 08:19 am ET | Updated Jan 28, 2014

"If your photographs aren't good enough, you're not close enough."

Those are the immortal words of Robert Capa, a photographer known for his proximity to many of history's most memorable moments. The ascension of troops onto Omaha Beach on D-Day, Leon Trotsky's famous speech in Copenhagen in the 1930s, the founding days of the state of Israel -- Capa captured these iconic events with precision and clarity. Gazing upon his images of Ingrid Bergman, the ruins of Stalingrad or the first battles of the Indochina War is akin to peering through a window to the early 20th century.

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Robert Capa, [Pablo Picasso playing in the water with his son Claude, Vallauris, France], 1948. © Robert Capa/International Center of Photography/Magnum Photos.

A new exhibit at the International Center of Photography pays tribute to Capa's uncanny ability to stop history in its tracks -- which he often did, in black and white. This time, though, the collection of photographs are in color, bringing a shocking amount of dynamism and life to his already spectacular snapshots. Think Pablo Picasso playing with his children in the ocean circa 1948 or a group of visitors anxiously awaiting the reveal of Lenin's tomb in the 1940s, displayed in all their polychromatic glory. "Capa in Color" is a ticket to time travel through the perspective of one of history's most dedicated observers.

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Robert Capa, [Gen X girl, Colette Laurent, at the Chantilly racetrack, France], 1952. © Robert Capa/International Center of Photography/Magnum Photos.

"Capa in Color" is the first exhibition to showcase the range of Capa's color photographs. The show comes on the heels of a colorizing craze, an internet phenomenon that involves turning black-and-white photos into red, blue and yellow works of art. The work of photographers like Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Diane Arbus will forever keep the monochromatic aesthetic appealing, but an entire Reddit community devoted to infusing the gray shades of historic images with bright, vivid hues proves a segment of pop culture is insatiably hungry for the surreal colors of yesteryear.

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Robert Capa, [Ava Gardner on the set of The Barefoot Contessa, Tivoli, Italy], 1954. © Robert Capa/International Center of Photography/Magnum Photos.

Scroll through a preview of "Capa in Color" here and ogle more of the enchanting imagery on the ICP's website. Let us know your thoughts on the works in the comments.

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Robert Capa, [Truman Capote and Jennifer Jones on the set of Beat the Devil, Ravello, Italy], April 1953. © Robert Capa/International Center of Photography/Magnum Photos.

"Capa in Color," a traveling exhibition, will be on view at the ICP from January 31 to May 4, 2014.

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