The Next Best Thing to a Museum Exhibition!
By Cynthia Young, Carole Naggar & Roger Cohen
Prestel Publishing, $75.00, 304 pages
Dawid Szymin (better known as Chim) was a Polish-born photographer who, along with Robert Capa and Gerda Taro, photographed the Spanish Civil War and set the bar for all future photojournalists. He went on to cofound Magnum Photos with Capa and Henri Cartier-Bresson. While Capa was in the thrall of the action, Chim set out to capture the reflective side of war.
On assignment when World War II broke out, he escaped the Jewish fate of Hitler’s Europe. As a displaced person himself, his sympathetic lens was drawn toward refugees and orphans. We Went Back: Photographs from Europe 1933-1956 by Chim is a well-deserved recognition of his work. The title is taken his project dealing with the children of Europe and how they coped with the aftermath of war.
Chim’s thought-provoking photographs are given full pages. In an unsettling contrast, we see children playing on Omaha Beach in the shadow of a rusted barge in 1947. A bright, happy, round-faced baby blanketed in white appears strikingly out of place amid the ruins of a bombed-out city.
Here, Chim’s career is eloquently chronicled in three contributing writers’ essays, illuminating the mark he made on photojournalism. This book is the next best thing to a museum exhibition!
Reviewed by Alicea Swett