Chim: David Seymour's Humanist Photography
National Gallery of Art, home page
Image: David Seymour, Republican Soldiers in Combat, Spanish Civil War, 1936 A page from Chim's passport that includes, at right, the entry visa for his first trip to Israel
© Chim Archive

Israel

From his base in Rome, Chim turned his attention increasingly toward the Mediterranean. He often traveled to Greece, and beginning in 1951 he visited Israel almost yearly to document the emergence of the new Jewish state, which had been established in 1948.

Chim's attraction to Israel was almost instinctive. The culture with which he had grown up in Poland was destroyed during World War II. His parents, relatives, and friends had been killed or had fled. In fact, the inveterate traveler did not return to Eastern Europe at all after 1948.

Israel, by contrast, offered hope. As Seymour wrote his sister, "It was like coming home again. It was like picking up the living threads of my life, for which I had been searching in vain on the heaps of rubble and ash in the ruins of Warsaw." Israel in many ways embodied Chim's idea of a political utopia, fusing communal living, a melding of nationalities, pioneering spirit, and fervent idealism, all in the name of redressing a gross historic injustice.