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August 28, 2006
Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery Presents
Reflections from the Heart: Photographs by David Seymour
September 11 – December 10, 2006
Contact: Thomas Moore
Director of Arts & Culture
Note: You may view or download this release as a pdf file.
Opening on September 11th and continuing through December 10th, UMBC’s Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery presents Reflections from the Heart: Photographs by David Seymour.
Curated by Tom Beck and organized by the Library Gallery in partnership with the Corcoran Museum of Art and the George Eastman House, the project will provide the first real critical examination of imagery by the pioneering photojournalist David Seymour. This project will elevate the significance of work by Seymour, the least well-recognized master among the founders of Magnum Photos, and will better familiarize viewers with the symbolism and artistic roots of his imagery. A major publication on Seymour authored by Beck and published by Phaidon Press, Ltd. will accompany the show.
The retrospective is organized chronologically and showcases many of the photojournalistic black and white images for which Seymour is best known. Also exhibited for the first time are fifteen of Seymour’s color images. Last seen in the 1950s as individual images in disparate magazines, a selection of Seymour’s original transparencies were digitized, made into inkjet prints to be shown together in Reflections from the Heart for the first time. No previous exhibition of Seymour's work included his color work. This is the first exhibition of Seymour’s work since the 1996 retrospective organized by the International Center of Photography, New York.
When political and economic upheavals in 1930s Europe interrupted David Seymour’s science studies at the Université-Paris Sorbonne, he borrowed a camera and became a photojournalist. Over the next quarter-century, Seymour, who was also known as “Chim,” helped redefine photojournalism by inviting viewers to identify directly with the people he photographed. Ten years after he was killed in 1956 while covering the Suez Crisis in Egypt, Seymour was eulogized by his friend and colleague, photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson: “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.”
Seymour felt deeply the wounds that plagued the human spirit during the 1930s and 1940s. He sought to show in his photographs that hope could prevail in times of turmoil. Many of his best known images introduced the world to the suffering and resilience of children in the aftermath of war. His humanitarian style established traditions still common in contemporary media. Both as a documentary photographer and as a co-founder of the seminal picture agency Magnum Photos, Seymour’s career inspired subsequent generations of socially concerned photographers and helped change the way people experience distant lives and historic events.
Public Program and Reception
On Wednesday, September 27th at 4:00 pm, the Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery will present three 30-minute presentations on the work of David Seymour, followed by a public reception:
• Joshua Karlip, Baltimore Hebrew University, Between East and West, Hope and Despair: The Life and Times of David Seymour
• Tom Beck, Chief Curator, UMBC, Humanism and Photography: the Imagery of David Seymour
• Carole Naggar, poet and photographic historian, For Better and Worse: the Magnum Family
About David Seymour
Born in Warsaw, Poland, Dawid Szymin grew up surrounded by art, music and literature. After he moved to Paris in 1931, he soon became a photojournalist and adopted the professional moniker “CHIM,” a French phonetic abbreviation of his surname. He began a lifelong career as a photojournalist in 1934 for the left-leaning French magazine, Regards. At that time, Chim plunged into a world undergoing massive redefinition. Mass-appeal magazines proliferated photojournalism with the introduction of faster and cheaper production methods. The magazines also included more photographic illustrations than ever before in part due to the “picture story” concept and the use of the Leica camera. With this revolutionary, miniature camera, innovative photographers were able to capture the less formal, more spontaneous images that became popular during this era. At the start of World War II, Chim became a U.S. citizen and joined the United States Army as a photo-interpreter, taking the name David Robert Seymour to avoid Nazi reprisals against his family in occupied Poland.
Seymour was very well educated, fluent in several languages and had deep affinities for different countries and their peoples. In covering many important subjects and historical moments, including the plight of the French working class, organization of the socialist Front Populaire, the Spanish Civil War, World War II, post-war life in Italy and Greece, early evolution of the state of Israel and the Suez Canal crisis, Seymour aimed to inform his audience so that they might better understand the potential of the world. His images were published in leading magazines, such as Life, Paris Match, This Week and Regards from 1933 to 1956, and were noted as rarely posed and achieved without affectation or manipulation.
Seymour loved photographing people going about their lives, often under difficult circumstances such as war and its aftermath, and revealing their humanity. His photographs depicting the physically and spiritually maimed children of Europe attracted worldwide attention to the suffering of these forgotten victims of war. He is perhaps best remembered for his body of work referred to as Chim’s Children. UNESCO and UNICEF commissioned this body of work in 1948 dealing with the plight of children in post-war Europe. Many of these moving images were published in magazines around the world and earned Seymour a reputation as the quintessential empathetic photojournalist.
In 1947, with Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger and others, Chim became a founding member of Magnum Photos, Inc., the pioneering international photojournalist cooperative that continues to set standards in international photojournalism today. The company’s aim was editorial independence: to be first in concept, quality and timing, and to place their stories all over the world through their own offices.
The Albin O. Kuhn Gallery serves as one of the principal art galleries in the Baltimore region. Objects from the Special Collections Department, as well as art and artifacts from all over the world, are displayed in challenging and informative exhibitions for the University community and the public. Moreover, traveling exhibitions are occasionally presented, and the Gallery sends some exhibits on tour to other institutions nationwide. Admission to the Gallery and its programs is free.
Reflections from the Heart: Photographs by David Seymour is organized by the Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery, University of Maryland, Baltimore County in collaboration with The Corcoran Gallery of Art and the George Eastman House. The exhibition is made possible by generous support from Ben Shneiderman.
Additional support is provided by the Maryland State Arts Council, an agency funded by the State of Maryland and the National Endowment for the Arts, the Baltimore County Commission on Arts & Sciences, the Friends of the Library & Gallery, the Libby Kuhn Endowment, the Judaic Studies Program at UMBC, and Epson USA Inc.
UMBC Artsline (24 hour recorded message): 410-455-ARTS
General Gallery information: 410-455-2270
Images for Media
High resolution images for media are available online:
or by email or postal mail.
UMBC is located approximately 10 minutes from downtown Baltimore and 20 minutes from I-495.
• From Baltimore and points north, proceed south on I-95 to exit 47B. Take Route 166 toward Catonsville and then follow signs to the Walker Avenue Garage or Albin O. Kuhn Library.
• From I-695, take Exit 12C (Wilkens Avenue) and continue one-half mile to the entrance of UMBC at the intersection of Wilkens Avenue and Hilltop Road. Turn left and follow signs to the Walker Avenue Garage or Albin O. Kuhn Library.
• From Washington and points south, proceed north on I-95 to Exit 47B. Take Route 166 toward Catonsville and then follow signs to the Walker Avenue Garage or Albin O. Kuhn Library.
• Daytime metered visitor parking is available in the Walker Avenue Garage. Visitor parking regulations are enforced on all University calendar days.
Posted by tmoore at August 28, 2006 4:23 PM