Chim: David Seymour's Humanist Photography
National Gallery of Art, home page
Image: David Seymour (Chim), Anti-War Rally, Saint-Cloud, 1936, gelatin silver print, printed 1982 David Seymour (Chim)
Anti-War Rally, Saint-Cloud, 1936
gelatin silver print, printed 1982
National Gallery of Art, Gift of Ben Shneiderman
© David Seymour Estate/Magnum Photos


Anti-War Rally, Saint-Cloud

Chim quickly became adept at shooting the mass demonstrations that were a signal feature of French politics in the Front Populaire era. He made this photograph at an antiwar rally in Saint Cloud, just outside Paris, in August 1936—an event that assumed special urgency in the aftermath of Hitler's reoccupation of the Rhineland in March and the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in July.

Chim here captured in one shot individual marchers, the sense of the emotionally charged crowd, and by framing the scene against the giant disarmament posters, the rationale for the demonstration. The composition gains much of its potency from its clever rhyming of the marchers' peacefully pumping fists with the static, bellicose hand clenching a sword in the English-language "War Is Insanity" poster (at top right).