David Seymour (photographer)
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David Seymour (Chim), 1954, by Elliott Erwitt.
November 20, 1911
|Occupation||Photographer, photo journalist|
Chim was known for his images from the Spanish Civil War, for co-founding Magnum Photos with Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa and George Rodger, and for his project "Children of War" with UNICEF that captured the plight of children in the aftermath of World War II.
Chim was born to Polish Jewish parents in Warsaw in 1911. David had a sister, Eileen, who was three years older. Their parents were Regina and Benjamin Szymin, a respected publisher of Yiddish and Hebrew books. In 1914 Chim and his parents emigrated to Odessa just as World War I had begun. In 1919 they returned to Warsaw. Chim studied graphic arts in Leipzig and then traveled to Paris to study at the Sorbonne.
It was while Chim was studying at the Sorbonne in Paris that he became interested in photography. He began working as a freelance journalist in 1933. His first "credited" published photograph appeared in 1934 in the magazine Regards.
Between 1936 and 1938 Chim covered the Spanish Civil War (alongside colleague Robert Capa) and other international political events. In February 1935 Chim was sent to Spain by Regards to report on crucial issues there. Twenty five of his stories on Spain ended up being published in Regards.
In 1939 he covered the Loyalist Spanish war refugees on the S.S. Sinaia to Mexico and then later in the year he arrived in the United States. Chim was in New York City when World War II broke out in Europe when Nazi Germany invaded Poland, Chim's birthplace. In 1940 he enlisted in the United States Army, serving in Europe as a photo interpreter during the war. In 1942 he became a naturalized citizen of the United States, the same year that his parents were killed by the Nazis. Chim photographed for Life, along with Look, Paris-Match and Regards.
In 1948 he received a commission through UNICEF and traveled to Austria, Hungary, Italy, Poland and Germany to document the plight of World War II refugee children. Inge Bondi, Chim scholar, said:
Chim's heart had always gone out to children, and they reacted to him with complete acceptance. They seemed oblivious of him, but he noticed every little movement, every little pain, every little pleasure. There is no artifice, no bravura of lighting expertise in Chim's photographs of the children. They speak simply from his pictures, as if alive. This intellectual, so adept at analyzing the most complex political situations, so comfortable photographing heads of state, produced his greatest photographs to help children in need.
Between 1949 and 1955 Chim travelled extensively throughout Europe and Israel, fulfilling assignments for major publications in Europe and the United States. Edward Steichen included his imagery, including his simple but eloquent picture of the worn hands of an older worker clutching a dip-pen to practice the letter 'a', in MoMA's 1955 world-touring The Family of Man, seen by 9 million visitors.
In 1947, Chim co-founded the Magnum Photos photography cooperative, together with Robert Capa and Henri Cartier-Bresson, whom he had befriended in Paris in the 1930s. As Inge Bondi, Chim scholar, stated:
Photojournalism was about to enter a golden decade. Television was not yet available to broadcast world events, and editors and the public were eager for news, from which they had been cut off during the fascist years and war years.
After Capa's death in 1954, Chim became president of Magnum Photos. He held that post until his death on November 10, 1956.
On November 10, 1956, Chim was killed while driving to photograph an exchange of wounded soldiers at El Quantara (along with French photographer Jean Roy) by Egyptian machinegun fire four days after the armistice of the 1956 Suez War, ten days before his 45th birthday.
Chim's work remains available by way of Magnum Photos and his estate is managed by nephew Ben Shneiderman and niece Helen Sarid.
Chim's reputation for his photos of war orphans was magnified by his later work in photographing famous people of his time. These included:
- Sophia Loren, at home, Naples, Italy (1955)
- Bernard Berenson, at 90, visiting Borghese Gallery, Rome, Italy (1955)
- Pablo Picasso, in front of detail of Guernica, France (1937)
- Henri Barbusse, along with leading left-wing intellectuals in his office at the literary journal "Monde", Paris France (1935)
- Arturo Toscanini, at his home, Milan (1954)
- Ingrid Bergman, 35 portraits of Ingrid Bergman, Rome, Italy (1952–1956)
- Roberto Rossellini, and family (1956)
- Audrey Hepburn, 14 portraits (1956)
- Richard Avedon, Paris, France (1956)
- CHIM: The Photos of David Seymour, 1996, International Center of Photography, New York City.
- "Close Enough", 1999, The Art Gallery at the University of Maryland, College Park.
- Reflections from the Heart, September 11 – December 10, 2006, Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery; March – June 2006, The Corcoran Gallery of Art; January 20, 2007 – Sunday, April 22, 2007, George Eastman House.
- Photographs by David Seymour (Selections from George Eastman House), May 11 September 9, 2007, International Center of Photography, New York City.
- Chim: The Photography of David Seymour (1911–1956), September 29, 2007 – February 24, 2008, the de Young, San Francisco.
- The Mexican Suitcase, September 24, 2010 – January 9, 2011, International Center of Photography, New York City.
- Chim/Gamboa Exhibition: The Mexican Connection, December 9, 2010 – March 6, 2011, El Centro de la Imagen, Mexico City.
- CHIM Retrospective, October 29 to February 27, 2011, the Jewish Museum, Brussels.
- CHIM Rediscovered / CHIM retrouvé, December 22, 2012 – January 27, 2013, CLAIR Galerie, St. Paul de Vence, Nice, France.
- CHIM (David Seymour), February 7 – March 30, Galerie Walter Keller, Zürich.
- Photographs by David "Chim" Seymour and Roman Vishniac, February 1–23, 2013, Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York City.
- We Went Back: Photographs from Europe 1933–1956 by Chim, January 18 – May 5, 2013, International Center of Photography, New York City.
- David Seymour (CHIM): A Celebration of Chim, September 7 – late October, 2013, Leica Gallery, Washington, DC.
Chim's work is held in the following public collections:
- Magnum Photos, New York City
- International Center of Photography, New York City
- George Eastman House, Rochester, NY
- National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
- Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
- The de Young, San Francisco, CA
- Victoria and Albert Museum, London
- Harry Ransom Center, Austin, TX
- Krieg in Spanien (War in Spain), by S.L. Shneiderman, Photos by Chim, Warsaw, Poland: Yiddish Universal Library, 1938.
- Children of Europe. Photographs by David Seymour, 1949.
- The Vatican. Photographs by David Seymour, 1950.
- Little Ones. Photographs by David Seymour, 1957.
- "Chim (David Seymour), 1911–1956." Paris: Michel Brient, 1966.
- David Seymour ("Chim") Paragraphic Editor: Anna Farova - Associate Editors: Cornell Capa & Sam Holmes, New York City: Grossman Publishers, 1966.
- The Concerned Photographer. Photographs by David Seymour, 1968.
- Israel/The Reality - People, Places, Events in Memorable Photographs, Edited by Cornell Capa, Micha Bar-am, Karl Katz & Arnold Saks, New York City: The World Publishing Company in association with the Jewish Museum, 1969.
- David Seymour Chim, 1911–1956. Photographs by David Seymour, 1974.
- David Seymour--"Chim." ICP Library of Photographers Editors: Cornell Capa and Bhupendra Karia, New York City: Grossman Publishers, 1974.
- Front Populaire, photographs by Robert Capa and David Seymour-Chim, Paris, France: Chene-Magnum, 1976.
- Les Grandes Photos de la Guerre d'Espagne." Photographs by Robert Capa, David Seymour-Chim,' 1980.
- In Our Time. The World as Seen by Magnum Photographers. Text by William Manchester. Norton, New York City, 1989.
- Chim. The Photographs of David Seymour. Photographs by Chim (David Seymour). Bulfinch, Boston, 1996.
- Chim: The Photographs of David Seymour. Bondi, Inge. Boston, 1996.
- Magnum. Fifty Years at the Front Line. Text by Russell Miller. New York City, 1998.
- Close Enough. Photographs by Chim (David Seymour). College Park, 1999.
- David Seymour, Chim. Valencia, 2003.
- David Seymour (Chim). Beck, Tom. London and New York City, 2005.
- Chim: Children of War. Naggar, Carole. Umbrage Editions, 2013.
- David Seymour: Vies de Chim. Naggar, Carole. Contrejour, 2014.
- The Mexican Suitcase. Dir. Trisha Ziff. 212 Berlin, 2011. Film.
- Chim's Children of Europe. 2013. 7-minute video.
- Chim: Photography's forgotten hero
- History of Magnum
- UNICEF's first international photographer
- David Seymour: A Life Worth Living
- "Chim". Archived from the original on 2013-03-15.
- "Biography". Chim: David Seymour's Humanist Photography. National Gallery of Art. Retrieved 2013-03-27.
- Bondi, Inge. CHIM: The Photographs of David Seymour. Bulfinch Press/Little, Brown and Company.
- Steichen, Edward; Steichen, Edward, 1879-1973, (organizer.); Sandburg, Carl, 1878-1967, (writer of foreword.); Norman, Dorothy, 1905-1997, (writer of added text.); Lionni, Leo, 1910-1999, (book designer.); Mason, Jerry, (editor.); Stoller, Ezra, (photographer.); Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.) (1955), The family of man : the photographic exhibition, Published for the Museum of Modern Art by Simon and Schuster in collaboration with the Maco Magazine Corporation
- "Reflections from the Heart: Photographs by David Seymour". Corcoran Gallery of Art. Archived from the original on 2013-04-09.