Remarks at the Opening of the Exhibit “Children of War” with Photography by David “Chim” Seymour

Remarks by Deputy Chief of Mission David J. Kostelancik

at the Opening of the Exhibit “Children of War” with Photography by David “Chim” Seymour

October 13, 2016


Director Dorka Kaposi, Professor Gábor Máté, Ms. Carole Naggar,
Ladies and Gentleman,

Jó estét!

It is my great pleasure to join you tonight for the opening of this incredible exhibition of works by David “Chim” Seymour, who in his brief 45 years was an eye witness to some of the most historic moments and turbulent times of the past century.  The Embassy is particularly honored to share the work of this Polish-American photojournalist with Hungarian audiences.

Born into an intellectual family in Poland, Chim could really be said to be a citizen of the world.  He studied printmaking in Germany and chemistry in France, where he first took up photography and started lifelong friendships with legends like Hungarian Robert Capa.  He became a magazine photographer and eventually immigrated to New York, where his new business, a photography studio, attracted notable European photographers like André Kertész.  He would go on to work for the U.S. Army, for Life magazine, and to move to Rome in the 1950s, where he took portraits of Sophia Loren and Ingrid Bergman.

From his birth in Poland to his naturalization as an American citizen in New York in 1943 (when he adopted the name David Robert Seymour) to his eventual death in Egypt on November 10, 1956, Chim lived a life full of change, and he fearlessly explored each new twist and turn.  Along the way, whether with glamorous Hollywood stars or in the company of children victimized by strife and war, he documented the world around him conscientiously and compassionately.

When describing his approach as a photojournalist, Chim once said:

We are only trying to tell a story. Let the 17th-century painters worry about the effects. We’ve got to tell it now, let the news in, show the hungry face, the broken land, anything so that those who are comfortable may be moved a little.

This exhibit focuses on a series of photographs commissioned by the newly-formed UNICEF in 1948 to document the toll of World War II on children across Europe.  For someone accustomed to the most sophisticated circles, he captured the most delicate details of a child’s world.  His record of life in the rubble after World War II challenges each of us to reflect not just on the grand political, sociological, or economic ramifications of violence, but on its effects on the most vulnerable, the most innocent among us.

This show is one of several photography exhibitions the Embassy will sponsor this year, including an exhibit open from October 7-22 at Mai Mano House, which presents Associated Press photographs documenting the aftermath of the 1956 Revolution in Hungary.

With each of these projects, we hope to offer unique perspectives on our shared, global community and the challenges it – and we — now faces.  Tonight, it gives me great pleasure to open this exhibit of works from such a complex man – an intellect and a humanist, a journalist and an artist, a Polish-American immigrant and entrepreneur, a world traveler at home anywhere.  I am certain his works will inspire stimulating, perhaps uncomfortable, but always moving discussions for a long time to come.

Please enjoy the exhibition.