In the Spring of 1948, David seymour’Chim’, a cofounder of Magnum Photos, was assigned by UNICEF as a “special consultant” to photograph the condition of European children who survived World War II, and to show UNICEF’s action as it provided 13,000,000 children with bare necessities such as powdered milk, soup and shoes, as well as vaccinations against tuberculosis and other diseases.
Chim traveled for over six months in five countries (Austria, Greece, Hungary, Italy and Poland).
The assignment soon became a labor of love. Instead of his usual $100 a day, Chim accepted $2,600 for a job that would end up taking him over six months, bringing him in five countries (Austria, Greece, Hungary, Italy and Poland). Not only did he shoot 257 rolls of film—but he went well beyond illustrating UNICEF’s work and succeeded in creating a deeper, broader portrait of the children living through postwar Europe.
They were the most vulnerable victims of the conflict that had raged for six years. Many of them had known nothing in their lives but war. They had spent their first years in underground sheltered, bombes streets, ghettos on fire, refugee trains, and concentration camps. They had grown up in a world of fear.
The show at D17 Gallery (Budapest), as a satellite exhibition of Art Market Budapest 2016 focuses especially on the work that Chim did in Hungary and Poland. The curator,Carole Naggar, Chim’s biographer, went back to Chim’s contact sheets and found many images that had never been printed before. In Hungary, Chim worked in high schools and kindergartens and focused especially on social experiments involving children and teenagers, such as in the town of Hajdúhadház, which was the seat of a remarkable experiment in autonomy: 350 boys and girls, orphans, vagabonds or delinquent, were trying to live in a self-sufficient way in a camp they considered home. In Poland, Chim often photographed orphaned Jewish children and made his famous image of Tereska in a home for disturbed children in Warsaw: when asked to draw her home, all she can manage is an inchoate scrawl, an expression of her deep trauma.
This trip was to be Chim’s last to Eastern Europe and the war’s territory. In his series on the children, he went well beyond illustrating UNICEF’s work and succeeded in creating a deeper, broader portrait of the children living through postwar Europe. This show is the first presentation of Chim’s work in Hungary.
For more information, go to www.davidseymour.com