web analytics
January 30, 2015 / 10 Shevat, 5775
 
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Home » Sections » Arts »

Two Jewish Views Of Photography


Wedding with a Chuppah Held Up by Rifles and Pitchforks (1952), photograph by David Seymour © Chim (David Seymour)/ Magnum Photos

Wedding with a Chuppah Held Up by Rifles and Pitchforks (1952), photograph by David Seymour © Chim (David Seymour)/ Magnum Photos

Chim and Vishniac at International Center of Photography
1133 Avenue of the Americas at 43rd Street, New York, NY
Tues – Thurs 10am – 6pm; Fri 10am – 8pm; Sat, Sun 10am – 6pm
Admission $14; Students & Seniors $10; under 12 free; Fri 5 – 8pm Pay what you wish
www.icp.org

Two masters of modern photography are on view at the International Center of Photography; Chim (Szymin) aka David Seymour and Roman Vishniac. They are both Jewish and just happen to bring astute but radically different visions to Jewish photographic subjects. These brilliant, exhaustive exhibitions help us examine the fundamentals of what it means to create a Jewish Art in photography.

We Went Back: Photographs from Europe 1933 – 1956 by CHIM

Chim, the byline that David Szymin expediently chose in the 1930’s, was for his time, “the photographer’s photographer.” He was the prototypical twentieth century European photojournalist, covering the most controversial subjects with an unabashed, left-wing perspective. He made it his business to be where the political action was happening. He was relentless in pursuing his photographic passions, working with like-minded journalists on assignments that included the destitute, the French working-class struggles, the Spanish Civil War and the unfolding drama of the emerging State of Israel. In 1947 he was assigned to travel with CBS reporter Bill Downs on a story called “We Went Back,” documenting post-war conditions in England, France, Belgium and Germany. At home with seemingly everyone, a UNESCO project documenting the effects of WWII on children perhaps showed him at his most sensitive. This exhibition exhaustively covers his entire career and is wonderfully curated by Cynthia Young.

Tereska (1948) photograph by David Seymour.  © Chim (David Seymour)/ Magnum Photos

Tereska (1948) photograph by David Seymour. © Chim (David Seymour)/ Magnum Photos

Tereska is one of the most riveting images reflecting the mental devastation that the war engendered. As a survivor she cannot live with her memories, and when asked to picture a “home,” she depicts a horrible chaos. Taken in 1948, she was in a home for emotionally disturbed children in Warsaw. We do not know her background; we only know her mental anguish. The excellent catalogue essay by Carole Naggar comments that “very few of Chim’s European photographs pertain to Jewish issues, and the UNESCO project makes virtually no mention of Jewish children or Jewish DP camps.” Nonetheless, this image is unforgettable.

Chim was born David Szymin in Warsaw in 1911. His father published the leading Yiddish and Hebrew writers of the time, including Sholem Asch, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Sholem Aleichem among many others. Contemporary Yiddish and Hebrew thought was his lifeblood. Sent to study in Leipzig and then at the Sorbonne in Paris he blossomed as a photographer when forced to earn a living. Paris was the vortex of 1930’s Modernism and he soon met Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Capa, two cutting edge photographers with whom he would found Magnum, the photographer’s cooperative, 20 years later. Fundamental to their success as photographers was “The three men shared an uncanny ability to relate to anyone socially, from the destitute to the wealthy.”

Chim’s photographic work was almost always an assignment coupled with a journalist, resulting in a series of photographs rather than one iconic image. They worked for left-wing popular magazines documenting the devastating economic conditions of the 1930’s, increasing political and union unrest as well as anti-fascist agitation. When the Spanish Civil War erupted as the battleground between the democratic left and the oppression of Fascism, this was clearly the conflict for these journalists to cover and Chim was at the center of much of the three-year civil war.

Chim accompanied the exiled defeated Republicans to Mexico where he made his way to New York and eventual US citizenship – and a new name: David Seymour. WWII stranded him in the United States but eventually he served as an interpreter and photographic code breaker in the Army. His post-war years were very active but it is his work in the fledging State of Israel that especially interests us. There he found a perfect marriage between his leftist politics and Jewish roots.

The First Baby in Alma, Israel (1951) photograph by David Seymour.  © Chim (David Seymour)/ Magnum Photos

The First Baby in Alma, Israel (1951) photograph by David Seymour. © Chim (David Seymour)/ Magnum Photos

The First Baby in Alma, Israel (1951) is an iconic image of parental pride and, ultimately, communal achievement. Alma, a moshav in the Upper Galilee was founded in 1949 and later settled by Italian converts known as the “Jews of San Nicandro.” From this Italian community most finally moved to Israel in the 1950’s, many settling in Alma. Somehow Seymour found them and the joyous occasion of their first child. The visual linking of the proud father, female infant dressed in a traditional Italian christening dress and the modest house compellingly communicates the faith, hope and determination of settling their new land.

About the Author: Richard McBee is a painter and writer on Jewish Art. Contact him at rmcbee@nyc.rr.com


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Two Jewish Views Of Photography”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Photo of Al Qaeda founder and former leader, Osama Bin Laden, seen above a Palestinian Authority flag.
Shin Bet Sting Nabs Israeli Arabs Joining Al Qaeda, ISIS
Latest Sections Stories
South-Florida-logo

The musical production was beautifully performed by the middle school students.

South-Florida-logo

Greige offered a post of her own. She said, “I was very cautious to avoid being in any photo or communication with Miss Israel.” She contends that she was photobombed.

South-Florida-logo

This year, 40 couples were helped. The organization needs the support of the extended Jewish community so that it can continue in its important work.

In the introduction to the first volume, R. Katz discusses the Torah ideal, arguing that the Torah’s laws are intended to craft the perfect man and are not to be regarded as ends unto themselves.

A highlight of the evening was the video produced by the Kleinman Family Holocaust Education Center on the legendary Agudah askan Reb Elimelech (Mike) Tress, a true Jewish hero.

Until recently his films were largely forgotten, but with their release last year on DVD by Re:Voir Video in Paris they are once again available.

Though the CCAR supported the Jewish right to emigrate to Eretz Yisrael, it strenuously objected to defining Palestine as the Jewish homeland.

“Well, you are also part of this class! If someone drills a hole in the boat, the boat will ultimately sink, and even the innocent ones will perish as well. The whole class must be punished!”

Nouril concluded he had no choice: He had to become more observant.

I find his mother to be a difficult person and my nature is to stay away from people like that.

Here are some recipes to make your Chag La’Illanot a festive one.

Does standing under the chuppah signal the end of our dream of romance and beautiful sunsets?

We aren’t at a platform; we are underground, just sitting there.

More Articles from Richard McBee
Jerusalem to Jericho Road: photograph by Chanan Getraide
“Chanan Getraide Photographs”: 2004 exhibition at Hebrew Union College Museum

“We are living in a Golden Age of Jewish Art, but don’t know it.”

McBee-062014-Outside

He refuses to flinch from our painful history, perhaps finding a kind of solace in the consistency of irrational enmity directed against us.

“Vidduy: The Musical” breaks through the formidable barrier of repetitive confession to allow us to begin to understand what is at the heart of this fundamental religious act.

A fascinating glimpse into the rich complexity of medieval Jewish life and its contemporary relevance had intriguingly emerged.

Silverstein’s work has long concerned itself with the intersection between the personal and Jewish Biblical narrative, significantly explored in this column in “Brighton Beach Bible” (July 27, 2009).

Not surprisingly the guardians of synagogue tradition is male dominated in both Moses Abraham, Cantor and Mohel and Synagogue Lamp Lighters.

Neither helpless victims nor able to escape the killer’s clutches, the leaders had to make impossible choices on a daily basis in a never-ending dance with the devil.

Bradford has opted to fully exploit the diverse possibilities of the physical surface by concentrating on the three-dimensional application of paint (impasto) and other material.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/arts/two-jewish-views-of-photography/2013/04/12/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: