Snapshot: Sophia Loren (1955), by Chim

Sophia Loren (1955), by Chim

A co-founder of the famous photographic collective Magnum, Dawid Szymin adopted the byline “Chim” because others found his Polish surname tricky to pronounce.

Born in 1911 in Warsaw, Chim, also known professionally as David Seymour, began his career in 1933 at leftist magazines in Paris. He was among the first photographers to take lightweight cameras into battle zones to document the reality of war as experienced on the ground. In 1947, he set up Magnum with Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa and George Rodger. Nine years later he was killed by gunfire while covering the Suez crisis.

Some of his best-known works, including images of the Spanish civil war and the birth of Israel, is on display now at the International Center of Photography. Chim’s celebrity photography is also on show, such as the picture of Italian actress Sophia Loren. “We went to a covered balcony of her apartment and I had nothing else to do but record a stream of poses which somehow met my memory of wartime pin-ups,” Chim once said. “All this was done with a touch of irony and maliciousness.”

‘We Went Back: Photographs From Europe 1933-1956 by Chim’ is on show at the International Center of Photography, New York, until May 5

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