David Seymour
Orphans of the Greek war

David Seymour

About the artist

1911 — 1956

David Seymour was a Polish photojournalist and co-founder of Magnum Photos, famed for his combat photography and works depicting the fallout from WWII. Studying graphic arts in Leipzig, and later finding a love for photography at the Sorbonne in Paris, Seymour had his first picture published in 1934. He spent the late '30s covering the Spanish Civil War alongside Robert Capa, the Hungarian-American master war photographer. Seymour, a Jew, served during WWII in the US Army; in 1942, his parents were killed by the Nazis.

Seymour was later commissioned by UNICEF to travel Austria, Hungary, Italy and his homeland documenting the lives of war orphans and refugee children. Now a war orphan himself, he would produce some of his finest work during this period. In 1947, Seymour co-founded Magnum Photos with Robert Capa and Henri Cartier-Bresson in Paris. He also shot portraits of numerous major celebrities of the era, including Picasso, Sophia Loren and Audrey Hepburn.

In 1954, Capa, then-president of Magnum, was killed by a landmine in Vietnam, and Seymour would become the collective's new president. Tragedy would strike again two years later when Seymour himself was killed by Egyptian gunfire while driving to photograph wounded soldiers at the tail end of the Suez Crisis, in a death with strange echoes of Capa's. He was just forty-four.

One of the many impressive aspects of Seymour's body of work is how many lives he seemed to live within his too-short time on earth. His portraits across the world captured great humanity even in the wake of war, and his lens seemed to bring out the soul in his subjects. In the twentieth-first century Seymour's photography has been exhibited internationally, as part of an ongoing renaissance for the humanist masters of Paris.

Technical information

Image 1: Orphans of the Greek war, 1948
Size: 20 x 20 en 30 x 30 cm
Extra: Universal, text in pencil and stamp on reverse