About the Photographer
CHIM (David Seymour)
Born in Warsaw, Poland, David Seymour (Dawid Szymin) was known to his friends as “Chim.” Of Jewish descent, he initially planned to join his family’s publishing business after studying printing in Leipzig, Germany. With the rise anti-Semitism against the Jewish population in Poland, he left to study chemistry and physics at the Sorbonne in Paris. He began working as a freelance photographer after David Rappaport lent him a camera, and quickly became a regular contributor to the French publications Paris-Soir and Regards. While in Paris, he became close friends with fellow photographers Robert Capa and Henri Cartier-Bresson, who shared his studio apartment and used the closet for film developing. In 1947, the three, along with George Rodger and William Vandivert, founded Magnum Photos as the first international cooperative photographic agency, where Chim would eventually succeed Capa as President.
Chim photographed the Spanish Civil War alongside Capa from 1936-38, afterward photographing the Spanish Republican refugees’ journey immigrating to Mexico. After moving to New York, he enlisted with the US Army in 1940. As the photo-interpreter with the US Air Force in England and Europe, he was awarded the US Bronze Star, promoted to lieutenant, and gained US citizenship. Throughout 1947-1956, Chim primarily worked in Europe, and covered many political events for Life magazine, as well as many other European and American publications. Also known for his work with portraiture, he photographed famed celebrities of the time including Pablo Picasso, Sophia Loren, Ingrid Bergman, and Audrey Hepburn.
Finally returning to Poland in 1948, he found Warsaw tragically devastated by World War II, and that his parents, relatives, and friends died in Polish ghettos and extermination camps. Deeply affected, he traveled throughout Europe documenting children in need of post-war help for UNICEF. It was for UNICEF that he captured the iconic image of Tereska, an orphan living in a residence for disturbed children, who, traumatized by her experience in concentration camps, attempted to draw a picture of her home.
Although known for being strongly opposed to violence, Chim continued to travel throughout war zones during his life, preferring to photograph the consequences of war beyond the front lines. While traveling nearby the Suez Canal to cover a prisoner exchange during the Suez conflict in 1956, Chim was killed by an Egyptian machine-gunner, just four days after the Armistice.