David Seymour (Chim)

American Photographer | Born: 1911 - Died: 1956

David Szymin was born in 1911 in Warsaw into a family of publishers that produced works in Yiddish and Hebrew. His family moved to Russia at the outbreak of the First World War, returning to Warsaw in 1919.

After studying printing in Leipzig and chemistry and physics at the Sorbonne in the 1930s, Szymin stayed on in Paris. David Rappaport, a family friend who owned the pioneering picture agency Rap, lent him a camera. One of Szymin's first stories, about night workers, was influenced by Brassaï's Paris de Nuit (1932). Szymin - or 'Chim' - began working as a freelance photographer. From 1934, his picture stories appeared regularly in Paris-Soir and Regards. Through Maria Eisner and the new Alliance agency, Chim met Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Capa.

From 1936 to 1938 Chim photographed the Spanish Civil War, and after it was over he went to Mexico on an assignment with a group of Spanish Republican émigrés. On the outbreak of the Second World War he moved to New York, where he adopted the name David Seymour. Both his parents were killed by the Nazis. Seymour served in the US Army (1942-45), winning a medal for his work in intelligence.

In 1947, along with Cartier-Bresson, Capa, George Rodger, and William Vandivert, he founded Magnum Photos. The following year he was commissioned by UNICEF to photograph Europe's children in need. He went on to photograph major stories across Europe, Hollywood stars on European locations, and the emergence of the State of Israel. After Robert Capa's death he became the new president of Magnum. He held this post until 10 November 1956, when, traveling near the Suez Canal to cover a prisoner exchange, he was killed by Egyptian machine-gun fire.

Source: Magnum Photos

We Went Back: Photographs from Europe 1933-1956 by Chim
Author: Cynthia Young, Carole Naggar, Roger Cohen
Publisher: Prestel
Year: 2013 - Pages: 304
This book traces the career of Chim, famed photojournalist and cofounder of Magnum Photos, who dedicated much of his life to documenting war and its aftermath. Born Dawid Szymin in Warsaw, Chim began his career in the early 1930s photographing for leftist magazines in Paris. In 1936, one of these magazines, Regards, sent him to the front lines of the civil war in Spain, along with comrades Robert Capa and Gerda Taro. Although war formed the backdrop of much of his reportage, Chim was an astute observer of 20th-century European politics, social life, and culture, from the beginnings of the antifascist struggle to the rebuilding of countries ravaged by World War II. Like millions of other Europeans, Chim had suffered the pain of dislocation and the loss of family in a concentration camp. His profound empathy for his subjects is evident in his postwar work on child refugees. In this volume, Chim emerges as both a talented reporter and a creator of elegant compositions of startling grace and beauty. The book places Chim's work within the broader context of 1930s-1950s photography and European politics.
 
Chim: Children of War
Author: Carole Naggar, David Seymour
Publisher: Umbrage Editions
Year: 2013 - Pages: 144
"Chim picked up his camera the way a doctor takes his stethoscope out of his bag, applying his diagnosis to the condition of the heart. His own was vulnerable."—Henri Cartier-Bresson Among the great masters of European photography, Chim endures as a legend. Along with Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, and George Rodger, he co-founded photojournalism's famous cooperative, Magnum Photos, and occupies a special place in the canon. This retrospective monograph gathers hundreds of rolls of film Chim shot shortly after World War II for UNICEF. One of Chim's best-known projects, this series was printed by Life in 1948 and by UNICEF is 1949. However, myriad images were left unpublished, hidden from the public audience. Chim: Children of War, created in close collaboration with Chim's estate, unveils many of these never-before-seen photographs, further cementing Chim as one of the most influential photographers of our time, an image-maker whose emotional empathy remains unmatched.
 
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