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David 'Chim' Seymour's 'Children of Europe' series on display for the first time in the UK
A young prostitute in the Albergo dei Poveri reformatory. Prostitutes, vagrants, and thieves were also sent there by the Naples Juvenile Court and taught embroidery by Catholic nuns. Over-population and misery have aggravated the problem of juvenile deliquency, which has increased in most countries because of the war and the aftermath of bad living conditions. Naples, 1948 David Seymour/Magnum Photos.

LONDON.- Vintage photographs from David ‘Chim’ Seymour’s ‘Children of Europe’ series are on display for the first time in the UK. Chim was commissioned by UNICEF following World War II to document the conflict’s impact on children and the resulting photographs drew attention to war’s most vulnerable victims. Also on show are rare vintage prints by Inge Morath, Henri Cartier-Bresson, David ‘Chim’ Seymour and Elliott Erwitt from the 1954 project ‘Children’s World’, displayed alongside caption sheets and magazine spreads from the project.

Magnum Photos was founded to allow photographers the freedom to pursue their own interests and causes, but alongside this the agency has consistently explored innovative collaborative projects with a global reach. One such project was ‘Children’s world’ published in Holiday magazine in three parts in 1955 and 1956 examined the lives of children in Uganda, Lapland, France, Cuba, Italy, England, Holland and the USA amongst others. The playfulness of this series, including Henri Cartier-Bresson’s portraits of children at the Paris Opera School, Inge Morath’s documentation of a six-year old English school boy attending and prestigious prep school and Elliott Erwitt’s photographs of the children of Wyoming, stands in sharp contrast with Chim’s ‘Children of Europe’ project – carried out only a few years previously.

David ‘Chim’ Seymour was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1911 and moved with his family to Russia at the outbreak for World War I, returning to Warsaw in 1919. He studied printing in Leipzig and chemistry and physics at the Sorbonne, Paris in the 1930s. After being lent a camera by a friend who owned the pioneering picture agency Rap, he began to work as a freelance photographer and was introduced to Henri Carter-Bresson and Robert Capa. From 1936 -1938 Chim photographed the Spanish Civil War and then to Mexico on assignment with Spanish Republican migrs. At the outbreak of World War II, in which both his parents were killed by the Nazis, he moved to New York and adopted the name David Seymour, and served in the US Army from1942-45. In 1947, along with Cartier-Bresson, Capa, George Rodger and William Vandivert, he founded Magnum photos. He went on to photograph major stories across Europe, including Hollywood stars and the emergence of the State of Israel. After Robert Capa’s death he became the new president of Magnum. He held this post until 10 November 1956, when, traveling near the Suez Canal to cover a prisoner exchange, he was killed by Egyptian machine-gun fire.

The exhibition is on view at Magnum Print Room through 27 January, 2017.

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