Renowned Polish photographer David Seymour (1911-1956) -better known as "Chim" because his Polish birth name, Dawid Syzmin was so difficult to pronounce- is one of the great masters of 20th century European photojournalism.
David Chim Seymour began his career in Paris in the 1930s. He chronicled wars and the lives they shattered from the 1930s to 1950s. He is best known for his images of the Spanish Civil War and for the UNICEF-commissioned project Children of War.
With Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, George Rodger, and William Vandivert, Seymour co-founded Magnum Photos and served as its president from 1954 until 1956 when, on November 10, during the Suez crisis, was shot by a machine gun next to the French photographer Jean Roy by Egyptian soldiers at the border crossing, while driving. He wanted to do a story about a prisoner exchange in the Suez Canal.
Though Seymour risked and eventually lost his life photographing war, in the 1950s he made Rome his home base and was introduced to another atmosphere: that of the La Dolce Vita, where he became the trusted portraitist of many film stars—including Sophia Loren, Gina Lollobrigida, and Ingrid Bergman—whose images were in high demand by magazines such as Life.
During that period he produces beautiful portraits with a great visual depth, delivered by his combination of an empathic eye and the practical approach his graphic training had dispensed.
This serie of portraits of a young Sophia Loren, shot on the balcony at her home in Naples in 1955, suggestively perched upon a stool, cinched in a red corset-like top, remind of the classic wartime pin-ups and sums up the timeless glamour of a definitely more feminine era.
I found the "behind the images" story quite suggestive... " I photographed Sophia in 1955, a budding actress, we talked over the phone and I explained what I wanted. She invited me over for a Sunday morning early meeting, I found her in bed in a dark blue negligee although she was talking on the phone. She got up and changed costume, 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. All this was done with a touch of irony and maliciousness".
She is one of our muses, our eternal inspiration.
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