Photographer David Seymour (1911-1956), often known by his professional name “Chim,” is the subject of a survey organized by George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film, Rochester, New York, and presented at the International Center of Photography (1133 Avenue of the Americas at 43rd Street) from May 11 to September 9, 2007. Noted for his humanistic approach to his subjects in war-time photography, Chim was a cofounder—along with Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and George Rodger—of the renowned photo agency Magnum in 1947. This exhibition, which emphasizes Chim’s early work, coincides with the celebration of the sixtieth anniversary of the founding of Magnum, and is a project of the George Eastman House/ICP Alliance.
Born Dawid Szymin in Warsaw, the photographer later anglicized his name to the more pronounceable David Seymour, but he was universally known as simply Chim. In the early 1930s, he studied science at the Sorbonne in Paris until economic circumstances forced him to take up more practical work. He began photographing working- class subjects for the leftist French picture magazine Regards and other publications. Chim was one of the first photojournalists to cover the Spanish Civil War starting in 1936, although he became better known for his intimate, humanistic scenes of the devastating after effects of war, rather than the famous battle scenes of his colleague Capa. He became an American citizen in 1942, and subsequently undertook photographic commissions from the United Nations agencies UNESCO and UNICEF, mostly focused on the impact of the war on Europe’s children. Chim returned to the front lines in 1956 to document the unfolding of the Suez Canal crisis in Egypt. Tragically, he was gunned down near Port Said with fellow photojournalist Jean Roy (of Paris Match).
Chim: Photographs by David Seymour / Selections from George Eastman House is organized by Dr. Alison Nordström, Curator of Photographs, George Eastman House. It includes iconic photographs from his UN commissions, as well as a series titled “Orphans of the Greek War,” and stunning, little-seen photographs of women munitions factory workers during the Spanish Civil War. More than half of these photographs were generously donated to George Eastman House byChim’s nephew, Ben Shneiderman. In addition to the exhibition, the anniversary of Magnum’s founding will be celebrated through various events and public programs at ICP.
This exhibition is the twelfth in the series “New Histories of Photography,” a collaboration between ICP and George Eastman House, and is made possible by the generous support of The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation.