Chim: David Seymour's Humanist Photography
National Gallery of Art, home page
Image: David Seymour (Chim), Republican Soldiers in Combat, Spanish Civil War, 1936, gelatin silver print, printed before 1962 David Seymour (Chim)
Republican Soldiers in Combat, Spanish Civil War, 1936
gelatin silver print, printed before 1962
National Gallery of Art, Gift of Ben Shneiderman
© David Seymour Estate/Magnum Photos

Spanish Civil War

Republican Soldiers in Combat, Spanish Civil War

Chim was not eager to cover battles, but he did so when circumstances demanded. This was especially the case before the arrival in Spain of two of Chim's fellow Regards photographers who would quickly prove inveterate battle photographers: Capa, one of his closest friends, and Capa's companion, Gerda Taro, who would be killed while covering the war in 1937.

In this stunningly composed image, Chim perfectly aligned his lens with the wheel of an artillery canon that has just been fired (as evidenced by the smoke pouring forth from the muzzle). To do so, he had to be in an exposed position on top of the ridge behind which the Republican riflemen take cover. The blurred figures and billowing smoke convey the tumult of battle even as the cloudless sky and rolling hills evoke a larger, timeless landscape.