Situated in the south of Jerusalem, the project benefits from one of the city’s most prestigious and desirable locales, nestled in a particularly attractive area between the Talpiot neighborhood and the green groves of Kibbutz Ramat Rachel.
Children playing with dolls generally make good photo ops. They fit well on wall calendars, interspersed among images of flowers and colorful birds, to be gazed at while listening to CDs with sounds of the rainforest. But photographer David Seymour photographed a different kind of child: the vulnerable, persecuted sort that frolics not on picturesque jungle gyms but in war zones. “Children Playing with Something That Was Once a Doll, Naples” (1948) is a perfect example. The children are smiling, as they should be. But their clothes are tattered, and the “doll” with which they are playing has been so deformed that it is unrecognizable as a doll without the help of the photograph title.
The photograph is one of many that Seymour Chim – pronounced Shim to his friends – captured when he was commissioned by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) to photograph post-war European children in Poland, Hungary, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Greece and Italy. Several of these photographs appeared this spring in the show, “Reflections from the Heart: Photographs by David Seymour (Chim),” at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The other images of Italian children include “Children Maimed by War, Villa Savoia, Rome” and “Young Neapolitans in a Reformatory, Naples.”
Chim was born Dawid Szymin in Warsaw, Poland in 1911 to a Jewish family that published Hebrew and Yiddish books. The Szymin family publishing company published Sholem Asch’s The Shtetl for the first time and translated writers like Mark Twain, Heinrich Heine and Guy de Maupassant into Yiddish. Chim’s parents died in 1942 in a ghetto created by the Nazis in Otwock, Poland.
Chim was in many ways a war photographer. He covered the Front Populaire in France in 1935 and the Spanish Civil War in 1936. In 1943, he was sent to England by the U.S. army (he was a volunteer) to interpret aerial photographs. He even ran with soldiers in Spain in 1938, photographing them with his Leica portable camera. Chim died tragically in 1956 when Egyptian sniper fire drove his and his partner’s car off the road and into the Suez Canal while he was covering a prisoner exchange during the Suez Canal crisis.
Many of Chim’s photographs are troubling, if not downright terrifying. “Tereska, a Child in a Center for Disturbed Children Produced These Scrawls as a Picture of Home” (1948) is a photograph of a young girl (named Tereska) who was asked to draw her conception of home. Behind her is a large chalkboard, upon which her drawing is displayed. The drawing is entirely composed of violent strokes that delineate the terrible reality in which Tereska grew up.
Chim (David Seymour), “Tereska, a Child in a Center for Disturbed Children Produced These Scrawls as a Picture of Home” (1948). Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Gift of Ben Shneiderman.
“Young Girl in a Sanatorium for Jewish Children, Otwock, Poland” (1948) shows a young girl infected with tuberculosis resting on a hospital bed. Other children with other illnesses, which the photograph title does not reveal, surround the girl. The image has an optimistic component, as the child is not alone. But the fact that Seymour’s parents died in an Otwock ghetto (they owned a summer home in Otwock) casts a forbidding air about the work.
But not all of Chim’s photographs are so dark. “First Child Born in the Settlement of Alma, Israel” (1951) captures a smiling immigrant father, Eliezer Trito, holding up his firstborn infant, Miriam. The landscape is bleak but the image carries optimism, as a young generation is born to uphold the land conquered by its predecessors. “Young Woman Preparing for Sentry Duty, Haifa, Israel” (1951) is also a lighter image. The Israeli soldier carries a rifle slung over her shoulder. The confidence of the woman – though she carries a lethal weapon – shows a Jew who is not helpless and oppressed like some of the photographs of Jewish children.
Chim (David Seymour), “First Child Born in Alma” (1951).” Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Gift of Ben Shneiderman.
Just as “First Child Born” shows a promising new Israeli generation, “Wedding in the Border Regions” (1952) shows a wedding ceremony with Israeli settlers. Pitchforks and rifles hold up the chupah (wedding canopy), a move that accesses the unique combination of sacred and profane in the Israeli settlements.
But despite Chim’s tragic death and his photographs of war-struck children, many of the photographs are less somber affairs that don’t address war at all. “Peggy Guggenheim at the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, Venice” (1950) shows the celebrity collector sitting on the deck of her Venice home on the Grand Canal. Guggenheim wears enormous gold-rimmed butterfly sunglasses, and her four dogs sit on her lap and beside her. The photograph manages to capture a playful Peggy Guggenheim, even though she hides her expression behind her sunglasses.
“Pablo Picasso in front of Guernica, Paris” (1937) shows Picasso in front of his famous painting in a way that will surprise many viewers who haven’t seen the painting in person. It is much larger in scale than it looks in art books. Picasso stands in the center of the bottom of the photograph. Chim captures the rightmost portion of Guernica, which depicts a man with an overturned head and his hands up in the air. Picasso, who stands directly under the painted man, resembles the painted face with his intense stare and comb-over. As Tom Beck correctly observes in David Seymour (Chim) (Phaidon, 2005), Picasso appears to be more a component of the painting than its creator contemplating his work.
And throughout the children, war and celebrity photos, Chim captures his images with a personal, gentle touch that finds humanity and personality both in devastating war and behind the cloudy sunglasses of Peggy Guggenheim.
Menachem Wecker is a painter and assistant editor of B’nai B’rith Magazine in Washington, D.C. He welcomes comments at
“Reflections from the Heart: Photographs by David Seymour” will hang at the Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, from September 11 – December 10, 2006. For more information, see or call 410-455-2270.
About the Author: Menachem Wecker, who blogs on faith and art for the Houston Chronicle at http://blogs.chron.com/iconia, welcomes comments at email@example.com.
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The mishloach manos of times gone by were sometimes simple and sometimes elaborate, but the main focus was on the preparation of the delicious food they contained.
One of the earliest special Purims we have on record was celebrated by the Jews of Granada and Shmuel HaNagid, the eleventh-century rav, poet, soldier and statesman, and one of the most influential Jews in Muslim Spain.
Jews, wake up! Stop educating the world and start educating yourselves.
The program took on special significance as it marked not only the first anniversary of Rebbetzin Kudan’s levayah but also the 27th yahrzeit of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson, a”h.
It captures the love of the Jewish soul as only Shlomo Hamelech could portray it – and as only Rabbi Miller could explain it.
Erudite and academic, drawing from ancient and modern sources, the book can be discussed at the Shabbos table as well as in kollel.
I’m here to sit next to you and help you through this Purim with three almost-too-easy mishloach manot ideas, all made with cost-conscious paper bags.
Kids want to be like their friends, and they want to give and get “normal” mishloach manos stocked with store-bought treats.
Whenever he did anything loving for me, I made a big deal about it.
“OMG, it’s so cute, you’re so cute, everything is so cute.”
A program that started with a handful of volunteers has grown exponentially to include students from a wider array of backgrounds.
Tutor. Counselor. The doctor too,
Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with you.
The exhibit, according to a statement from guest curator Michele Waalkes which is posted on the museum website, “examines how faith can inform and inspire artists in their work, whether their work is symbolic, pictorial, or textual in nature. It further explores how present-day artwork can lead audiences to ponder God, religious themes, venerated traditions, or spiritual insights.”
It all started at an art and education conference at the Yeshiva University Museum. When one of the speakers misidentified a Goya painting at the Frick Collection, both the gentleman sitting next to me and I turned to each other and corrected the error simultaneously.
One of my favorite places when I was growing up in Boston was the used bookstore on Beacon and St. Mary’s streets. Boston Book Annex could play a used bookshop on television; it was dimly lit and cavernous, crawling with cats, and packed with a dizzying array of books, many of which sold three for a dollar. But used bookstores of this sort, however picturesque and inviting, are a relatively modern phenomena. In the Middle Ages, for example, I would never have been able to afford even a single used book unless I had been born into an aristocratic family. (Full disclosure, I was not.)
Jewish medals, several with Hebrew inscriptions and provocative imagery, were among the gems at The European Art Fair (TEFAF) in Maastricht, Netherlands, as I wrote in these pages two weeks ago. Another mini-trend at the fair, which will interest Jewish art aficionados, was an abundance of works by Marc Chagall.
It’s virtually impossible to ignore the financial aspects of TEFAF Maastricht, the annual arts and antiques fair in the historic city about two hours south of Amsterdam. More than 250 dealers from nearly 20 countries sell their wares—which span from Greek and Roman antiquities to contemporary sculptures—in the halls of the Maastricht Exhibition and Congress Centre, whose corridors are adorned by nearly 65,000 tulips.
Max Ferguson’s 1993 painting Katz’s may be the second most iconic representation of the kosher-style delicatessen after the 1989 Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan film, When Harry Met Sally. Ferguson’s photorealistic painting depicts the deli from an interesting perspective, which is simultaneously inviting and hostile—in short, the dichotomy of deli culture.
The whole idea of an artful pushka (tzeddakah or charity box) is almost a tease, if not an outright mockery. Isn’t there something pretty backward about investing time and money in an ornate container to hold alms for the poor?
Located about nine miles north of Madrid, the Palacio Real de El Pardo (Pardo Palace) dates back to the early 15th century. Devastated by a March 13, 1604 fire that claimed many works from its priceless art collection, the Pardo Palace and its vast gardens were used as a hunting ground by the Spanish monarchs.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/smile-and-say-cheese-children-maimed-by-war/2006/06/21/
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