They were thought to be lost forever. After an incredible journey, 4500 negatives from the legendary photojournalist Robert Capa and his friends Gerda Taro and David ‘Chim’ Seymour, resurfaced in New York in 2008
Chim: A Vivid Retrospective of Europe
David Seymour, known as Chim, didn’t shine in the spotlight like his more famous Magnum colleagues. But a retrospective opening this week shows him to have been a master chronicler of 20th century Europe.
Chim — born Dawid Syzmin and later known as David Seymour — was a quiet photographer, the type who never seems to get his artistic due, but who remains an indispensable part of history. He documented moments that slipped somewhere between the iconic and the commonplace, made vivid by their unexpected familiarity.
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His assignment soon became a labor of love: he worked for six months and shot 257 rolls of film with his Rollei and Leica, accepting a token sum of $2,600 instead of his customary $100 a day fee. From the spring to the fall of 1948, he traveled through five European countries: Austria, Greece, Italy, Hungary and his native Poland.
In “Images of War, Finally Unpacked,” Holland Cotter reviews an exhibition called “The Mexican Suitcase” at the International Center of Photography in New York, which documents wartime life in Spain between 1936 and 1939 through the eyes of three photographers — Robert Capa, Gerda Taro and David Seymour (Chim) — in images no one seems to have seen for more than a half century.
Images of War, Finally Unpacked
“The Mexican Suitcase” at the International Center of Photography features recently recovered images of the Spanish Civil War by Robert Capa, Gerda Taro and David Seymour.
After all these years I’ve found some answers to my question in an exhibition called “The Mexican Suitcase” at the International Center of Photography. The show documents wartime life in Spain between 1936 and 1939 from an insider-outsider vantage: through the eyes of three photographers — Robert Capa, Gerda Taro and David Seymour, known as Chim — who were not Spanish but who were intensely committed to what they saw as a do-or-die anti-fascist struggle.
When the three weathered cardboard boxes — known collectively, and cinematically, as the Mexican suitcase — arrived at the International Center of Photography more than a year ago, one of the first things a conservator did was bend down and sniff the film coiled inside, fearful of a telltale acrid odor, a sign of nitrate decay.
But the rolls turned out to be in remarkably good shape despite being almost untouched for 70 years. And so began a painstaking process of unfurling, scanning and trying to make sense of some 4,300 negatives taken by Robert Capa, Gerda Taro and David Seymour during the Spanish Civil War, groundbreaking work that was long thought to be lost but resurfaced several years ago in Mexico City.