Happy Birthday Chim

Regards, “Lourdes…” November 1933 (2007.71.102)

Voila, “Avec les Thoniers Bretons,” August 15, 1936 (2007.71.19)

Regards, “Le Messe de Campagne sur le Front Basque,” March 4, 1937 (2007.18.32)

Photo-History 1: War in Spain, “Safeguarding Spanish Art,” April 1937 (2006.46.1)

Regards, “Les coulisses de la Marseillaise,” October 7, 1937 (2010.51.11)

Point de Vue, Images du Monde, “Le Bonheur D’Ingrid Bergman,” October 23, 1952

To commemorate the birth date of Chim, on this day in 1911, a diverse sampling of his many photos in publications.

Chim is the subject of a large retrospective exhibition (October 19, 2018 – March 10, 2019) at the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam.

Chim was one of the most respected photojournalists of the twentieth century. He covered the Spanish Civil War for the European and American picture news magazines of the day with his friends Robert Capa and Gerda Taro, after establishing himself as a sought-after photographer in Paris for Regards magazine for his photo essays on workers and documentation of the Popular Front. In 1947, he founded Magnum Photos with Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and George Roger, and relaunched his postwar career photographing European postwar stories, from politics to publishing under the byline David Seymour. His 1948 photographic commission for UNESCO on the devastating impact of war on children was widely heralded. He was killed in 1956 while photographing the Suez Crisis. His work is characterized by dynamic and graceful compositions infused with poignant detail of the political stories he covered.

Born Dawid Szymin in 1911 in Warsaw, Chim’s family published Hebrew and Yiddish translations of European and American classic novels as well as contemporary Yiddish writers. He moved to Paris in 1932 to study at the Sorbonne but, to cover his living expenses, he picked up a camera and began photographing. Because “Szymin” was too complicated to pronounce or spell, he proposed “Chim” as a byline and the name stuck. Fansinaflashbulb

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“A ‘Different’ Picture of Opera’s Opening Night”

Weegee, [Opening night, Metropolitan Opera, New York], November 23, 1942 (235.1984)

PM, November 28, 1942, p. 14

Weegee Brings Back a ‘Different’ Picture of Opera’s Opening Night
Weegee, the photographer who lives next door to Police Headquarters and who specializes in covering crime, went up to the opening of the opera last Monday night and took this picture. It shows a meeting in the lobby of the Metropolitan Opera House, after the performance of Daughter of the Regiment, between one of the patrons and a bearded man who had been standing there alone during the last act. “As they came out,” Weegee told us, “the high-hatted folks had looked at the old man in amazement; some murmured ‘What a character!’ Then this monocled one came through the door and patted him on the shoulder, asking, ‘How are you, my good fellow?'” The camera caught the man’s quick smile, but he hurried away before Weegee could find out his name. The democratic opera-goer is Dr. Bertram Cecil Eskell of the British Consulate. “I bet he must be a Lord,” said Weegee, “and even if he isn’t he surely is an ambassador of good fellowship.” Later Weegee interviewed a traffic cop outside the Met, where the limousines had been parked clear to 5th Ave., two blocks away. “This is their last splurge,” said the cop, “and they must have had to save their gas coupons for it. Some of the cars had two liveried chauffeurs – one to steer and the other to push when they run out of gas, I suppose.” (For other details of opening night at the Opera House, see page 6.)

PM, November 28, 1942, p. 6

We get a press-side view of the Met opening
One of he biggest local items this week was the opening of the opera. We’re of the century of the common man [people] ourself, but we wanted to see how the other, or Frank Crowninshield half, lives.
We stationed ourself in the 39th St. lobby through which the carriage trade passes, among the battery of press photographers facing the doors. The fashion and society writers clustered to the right of the entrance…

Just before 9, the REAL, REAL personage arrived. Beekman stood in silent awe. We didn’t have to say anything. Mrs. George Washington Kavavaugh stood there, supporting her diamonds and emeralds. Of course, everybody REAL had worn a few diamonds but this was a display. And Mrs. Kavanaugh just stood there while everybody stared – beaming in simple, unashamed, childlike joy.
The completely unsophisticated pleasure of the crowd at the sight of those jewels astonished us. Up to this time, everyone had been keeping up the show of being as snooty as the next fellow, quite accomplished to this sort of thing, don’t y’know. A woman behind us murmured “disgusting,” but her heart wasn’t in it.
Mrs. Kavanaugh was accompanied by her daughter, Mrs. Leonore Warner, whose jewels were insignificant by any standard and whose news value was completely overshadowed by her mother’s…

Weegee, [Opening night, Metropolitan Opera, New York], November 23, 1942 (7253.1993)

For the third consecutive year Weegee’s strategy: “I wanted to get something different than the usual Society celebrities” was successful. For the second consecutive year Mrs. George Washington Kavanaugh was in PM‘s coverage of the Metropolitan Opera’s opening night. Many opera goers wore black and many wore uniforms for the first wartime opera opening since 1917. (The “two chauffeurs” bit might be more of a joke than factual.) Perhaps Mrs. Kavanaugh was (and will be) an obvious and ostentatious target for satire. The opening on Monday, November 23, 1942, sets the scene for the next opening in 1943.

The opera was Gaetano Donizetti, Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges, and Jean-François Bayard’s La fille du régiment (1839). Lily Pons was Marie. The conductor was Frank St. Leger. Apparently the opera began and ended with the orchestra performing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” At the end of the opera, after Ms. Pons sang the “Marseillaise,” an American flag was brought onstage and “the orchestra began ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’ The leading singers and chorus on the stage, supported by the more than 3,000 men and women in the capacity audience, sang it with rousing feeling.” (The New York Times, November 24, 1942.)

Because of the war the bright white lights of the marquees were red and blue to meet the rules of the dim-out. There were large signs that read “This Corridor Is a Shelter Area.” The Times also reported that “some things never change at a Metropolitan Opera opening: The photographers madly plied their trade in the Thirty-ninth Street foyer, where the famous patrons arrived. Flashlights went off, camera men tried to catch last shots inside the corridor, and there was at least one violent squabble between a photographer on the one hand and an opera official and a fireman on the other.” (The New York Times, November 24, 1942.)

Dr. Bertram Cecil Eskell graduated from Oxford and the Royal College of Surgeons of England. At his wedding to Ludmilla Aissa Alihan at a Russian Orthodox church on East 121st St. the actor Raymond Massey was the best man. The Times reported that two mink coats valued at $700 ($10,537 today) and $1,650 ($24,836 today) were stolen from two New Jersey women during the intermission after the first act.

The “Lee” in the “To Lee” inscription is the great New York photographer, friend of Weegee, and ICP librarian Lee Sievan (1907-1990).

Will Weegee return to the Metropolitan Opera for the the opening night festivities in 1943?
If so, will he “get something different than the usual Society celebrities”?
Of course!
Stay tuned for “The Critic at 75.”

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Annegret Soltau

Annegret Soltau, Self, #9, 1975-76 (2018.13.1)

Annegret Soltau is a German visual artist who gained recognition in the mid-1970s with her performances and stitched portraits. In Permanente Demonstration Soltau set up series of performances where she would wrap the faces of individuals and groups of people with black thread. To the artist the string represents the materialization of the drawn line into reality. Simultaneously the impressions of the string leave marks that resemble wrinkles of an aging person. In Selbst (“Self”) she stitches thread in geometrical forms across photographic self-portraits. This work developed from an earlier series of representations where Soltau wrapped herself in dark thread, as if in a cocoon. It is a reflection of the artist’s understanding on how human existence is subject to a continuous metamorphosis throughout life. In her career Soltau continues to reflect on the themes of aging and the changes of the body. The use of needle and thread is a distinctive characteristic of her work.

Annegret Soltau was born in Lüneburg, Germany in 1946. She studied painting and graphic arts at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste (University of Fine Arts) in Hamburg and continued her education at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste Wien (Vienna Academy of Fine Arts). Her work is represented in the collections of the Deutsche Bank collection in Frankfurt, Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, among other institutions. Soltau’s work is considered to be fundamental for the development of experimental and performative art of the 70s and 80s.

This year ICP acquired Self, #9 for its permanent collection.

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Weegee, “Intermission,” November 25, 1941 (1060.1993)

I made this at the opening of the Met Opera Season. . . I wanted to get something different than the usual Society celebrities. . . noting a lot of men in military uniforms mingling with the high hats. . . during intermission I saw this row of hats in one of the cloak rooms. . . So I photographed it. . .

4/5 Speed Graphic
Zeiss Tessar
Agfa Super Plenacrome Press
Wabbash Press 40
1/200 exp.

PM, November 25, 1941, p. 22

This season the opera opening was not all high hat; there was a showing of gold braid and a generous turnout of plain khaki. The fancy peaked cap above is a captain’s, the other just a lieutenant’s. (Photo by Weegee)

Opera patronesses seldom check their tiaras with the management. Here, at their table in the Opera Bar (only theater bar permitted in N.Y.) are, left to right, Mrs. George Washington Kavanaugh, Lady Decies, Mrs. Leonora H. Warner.

The cops keep a watchful eye on the standees. Last night a Mr. Burke (above) boned up on his libretto while waiting to buy a standee ticket.

The onlookers flanking the main entrance put on the dog in their own fashion. Lena Penola’s pooch is named Buddy. (Photos by Ray Platnick, PM Staff.)

No Handstands at the Met Opening
By Henry Simon
Opening night at the Metropolitan is largely (as you can see from the pictures on this page) a story of what goes on in front of the footlights and way beyond that. More people come later than usual, more leave early, more stick around the bar during the performance; and, for some reason or other, the applause inside the auditorium is less clamorous than it is on other nights.
All of which has nothing whatsoever to do with the merits of the performance. Last night’s Nozze de Figaro was almost exactly the same mounting the Met has given this dream of operas for the last two years – which is to say that it is one of the very best shows in the large repertoire, and one that has been a real hit with both the box office and the reviewers…
PM, November 25, 1941, p. 22

For the second consecutive year men’s hats were the focus of Weegee’s coverage of the opening night festivities at the Metropolitan Opera on November 24, 1941. Although it was only two weeks before the United States entered into the War (after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7, 1941) perhaps military headgear hanging in the cloak room foreshadowed America’s imminent declaration of war. Patriotism was in the air and in the hall. “Society” joined the standing-room-only audience members in standing when Ettore Panizza conducted the orchestra in a rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” before the opera began and the entire audience of 4,000 stood. As in 1940 the conductor of the opera was Ettore Panizza. Apparently it was the first time that both a Mozart opera and a comedy were performed at the Metropolitan Opera’s opening night. (The Met opened in 1883.) Balduína “Bidú” de Oliveira Sayão (born in Brazil, 1902–1999) was Susanna and Ezio Pinza (born in Italy, 1892-1957) was Figaro. Intriguingly Weegee’s typed note on the back of the photo states: “I wanted to get something different than the usual Society celebrities.” This was true in 1940 and 41. Wanting “to get something different” might define his approach to photographing at the opera, might summarize his approach to photography, and life.

Will Weegee return to the Metropolitan Opera for the the opening night festivities in 1942? If so, will he photograph hats? Stay tuned…

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“Weegee Covers Society”

Weegee, [Opening night of the Metropolitan Opera, New York], December 2, 1940 (3056.1993)

PM, December 3, 1940, p. 1

The Opera Opened Last Night. Weegee made this picture. He tells how on Page 2. Other pictures, Pages 19-21.

PM, December 3, 1940, p. 2

Weegee Covers Society
“Last night, at the opening of the Metropolitan Opera season, I rubbed elbows and stepped on toes of the society crowd (and I don’t mean cafe society). On the outside of the opera house on W. 39th St., after the performance, between the mink coats and the high hats, I felt like an Italian in Greek territory. Without a high hat the cops showed you across the street. They gave me dirty looks but I was saved by my press card. The jam was terrific. All the high hats were looking for their limousines. (Picture on Page 1.) It was a battle of the minks and the fur flew. The cops were so polite to the carriage trade it made passing cab drivers cry with envy. The women were young and, oh, so beautiful, and the men were elderly. I think most of the limousines were rented for the occasion. They had that funeral look. The license numbers started with T and the number followed each other like in taxicabs. But I guess the suits and the top hats were their own.” – WEEGEE PM, December 3, 1940, p. 2

PM, December 3, 1940, p. 19

…And the Opera Season Opens at the Met
This is how the Metropolitan Opera House looked from the stage just before the curtain went up for last night’s performance of Verdi’s Masked Ball, 1940 season opener. The main change from last year is individual seats on the second elevation, instead of the old grand tier boxes. The remaining boxes that show in the picture are numbered. No. 35, at center, is that of Thomas J. Watson, president of International Business Machines. Holders of other boxes shown were: 34, Mrs. J. Lorimer Worden; 33, Mr. and Mrs. G. Beekman; 32, Mrs. Nellie Sands; 31 O.F. Weber; 30, Mrs. H.P. Whitney; 29, Robert Chambers, Pryor H. Kalt, David H. McAlpin and David V. Shaw-Kennedy; 28, Mrs. W. Bayard Cutting; 27, Mrs. John Pratt; 26, C. Walter Nichols; 25, Mrs. Thomas Mumford and Mrs. John Adams Mayer; 24, R. W. Goelet; 23, Edward Johnson, Met general manager, and Edward Ziegler, his assistant, 21, Mrs. David K. E. Bruce. Several boxholders had not yet arrived when picture was taken.
The conductor, foreground, is Panizza. (Photo by World Wide) PM, December 3, 1940, p. 19

PM, December 3, 1940, pp. 20-21

On Stage, Colorful Costumes… On the Street, Winter Wraps…
In this finale of Act 1 in Verdi’s Masked Ball, the opera appears for the first time in its original setting, the court of Gustave III of Sweden, who was assassinated in 1792. A similar attempt had been made on the life of Napoleon III and it was thought wise to change the scene to Boston where intrigue had less importance. Oscar the Page at the center is Stella Andreva. At the left is Jussi Bjoerling, who sang the lead. (Photo by World Wide)

Waiting for a chance to sit way up in opera heaven, far above the mammoth stage, is the typical line of true music lovers who have stood for many hours with the vague hope of finding a seat. The men and women in the line are mostly music teachers. (Photo by Gene Badger, PM Staff)

In the afternoon performers had to report for dress rehearsal. Here are Zinka Milanov and Alexander Sved. (Photo by World Wide)
PM, December 3, 1940, p. 20

… And in the Lobby, Boxholders Wearing Glamorous Gowns
Lily Pons [opera singer, (1898-1976)] wore one of the really beautiful gowns of the evening, as she never fails to do for occasions like this. It’s white satin, low-cut, with silver spangled plume design. The long cape is made of rare chinchilla.

Mrs. Louise Revenga of Venezuela in one of the most striking gowns. The skirt is hooped, of navy satin trimmed with pink satin. Her headdress is ostrich plumes and flowers. Everybody wore some kind of hair ornament.

Helen Michalis in a gold lame-cloth dress that has a longblack velvet bodice. Several off-shoulder gowns, such as this were noted. Pinning flowers to bags, muffs or in the hair is definitely the thing to do.

Marian Oates wore all-white, a full but straight-hanging dress and ermine jacket. White crepes, satins, nets and of course, ermine, were popular; all colors from bright to pastels and including two-tone combinations, even more so.

Mrs. Bryon Foy wore an extremely wide-skirted dress of purple velvet, self-printed, under her chinchilla jacket. The large majority of full skirts seen indicates that the narrow silhouette has not caught on for really formal wear.

Simone Simon [French actress, (1910–2005)] in a light blue satin skirted dress with a long-sleeved mauvish brocade top. Unlike many, she left some of her jewelry home, was outstandingly simply and charmingly dressed.
(Photos by Alan Fisher, PM Staff.)

Weegee, [The opera opened last night, Metropolitan Opera, New York], December 2, 1940 (1061.1993)

In preparation for the 75th anniversary of “The Critic” this blog post is a look at Weegee’s and PM‘s coverage of the opening night at the Metropolitan Opera in 1940. It was PM‘s first coverage of the opening of the opera season and perhaps these were Weegee’s first opera photos. (If that’s true, it will be interesting to see how his coverage of society evolves.) As the front page of PM reveals, in 1940 the opera opened almost exactly a year before the U.S. entered World War Two, and in Europe, World War Two was a little over a year old.

The opera performed on December 2, 1940 was Giuseppe Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera. The conductor was Ettore Panizza (1875–1967).

The top photo, [Opening night of the Metropolitan Opera, New York], (3056.1993), was distributed by Acme Newspictures. In the extraordinary book Extra! Weegee the caption on the back of the photo reads: “Opera Epilogue (1). Tophats were out en masse for the opening of the opera in New York City, recently, and after the opera, the tophats were looking for their cars. Credit Line Acme, (12/6/40).” (Extra! Weegee, p. 185.) In the bottom photo, [The opera opened last night, Metropolitan Opera, New York], (1061.1993), Mrs. George Washington Kavanaugh (Marie Miller Kavanaugh) (1867-1954), one of the criticized, and Mrs. Leonora Warner can be spotted behind the waddle of men wearing top hats.

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Soldiers, Veterans Day, 2018

Unidentified Photographer, [Soldier], 1910-30 (1077.1990)

Unidentified Photographer, [Soldier], 1918-1936 (1075.1990)

Unidentified Photographer, [Soldier], 1910-1930 (959.1990)

Hornung’s Studio, [Soldier, Burlington, Iowa], 1910-30 (1089.1990)

Unidentified Photographer, [Soldier], 1904-1918 (958.1990)

Unidentified Photographer, [H. S. Williams, France], ca. 1917-20 (1081.1990)

Unidentified Photographer, [Four soldiers, France], ca. 1917-20 (1073.1990)

Clarence Bruce Santee (ca. 1883-1938), [Soldiers, Dodge, Iowa], ca. 1918 (1085.1990)

During World War I, the South furnished the bulk of the African American men called up through the draft. Normally, men would be assigned to training camps nearest their homes, but the War Department, wanting to avoid an over-concentration of black recruits at any one camp, sent many African Americans to camps in the North. The soldiers pictured here, members of the 88th Division of the U.S. Army, were among the first African Americans to be trained to fight in the war. According to information on the verso, they were photographed at Camp Dodge, Iowa, on June 14, 1918, by Clarence Bruce Santee of Des Moines. Santee was an African American itinerant photographer from Texas who specialized in portrait photographs at studios in Des Moines, Kansas City, and finally Dallas, where, by the 1930s, he was moderately successful. (1085.1990)

To commemorate Veterans Day: several portraits of soldiers made around one hundred years ago, around the end of World War One.

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Seeing and Remembering World War One

Martin Munkácsi, [Car offering battlefield tours, Ypres, Belgium] ca. 1929 (2007.110.713)

Martin Munkácsi, [Car offering battlefield tours, Ypres, Belgium] ca. 1929 (2007.110.2450)

Martin Munkácsi, [Tourist buses and automobiles outside St. Martin’s Cathedral, Ypres, Belgium] ca. 1929 (2007.110.709)

Martin Munkácsi, [Tour buses to World War I battle sights, Ypres, Belgium] ca. 1929 (2007.110.705)

Martin Munkácsi, [Group looking at World War I tank, Ypres, Belgium] ca. 1929 (2007.110.710)

Martin Munkácsi, [Memorial to fallen World War I soldiers, Ypres, Belgium] ca. 1929 (2007.110.708)

The above photos, made about ten years after the end of World War One, show civilians seeking tours of battle sights, honoring and paying tribute to dead soldiers, and the rebuilding taking place in Belgium.

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One Hundred Years After the End of World War One

Unidentified Photographer, [Madame Cagnet and child standing next to grave of a Lieutenant Roosevelt, France], 1918 (2010.83.15)

The grave of Lt. Quentin Roosevelt near Seringes [Seringes-et-Nesle.]. Madame Cagnet has assumed the duty of caring for the grave.

Quentin Roosevelt (1897-1918) was the youngest son of Edith and President Theodore Roosevelt. This photo was published in the New York Tribune, August 31, 1919, with the caption: “The grave of Lieutenant Quentin Roosevelt in France at the edge of the wood of Chamery, east of Fere-en-Tardenois, and Mme. Pasquar Cagnet and her little daughter, caretakers of the bit of ground sacred to all America. Lieutenant Roosevelt was killed in an aerial combat with German aviators in July, 1918. Keystone View Co.”

Unidentified Photographer, [Monument erected on “Dead Man’s Hill.”], 1917-1920 (2010.83.10) [Cumières-le-Mort-Homme]

Monument erected on “Dead Man’s Hill.” Cote le Mort Homme near Verdun.

Unidentified Photographer, [The Cathedral of Reims], ca. 1918 (2010.83.19)

The Cathedral of Reims, showing the damage caused by the bombardment.

Unidentified Photographer, The ruined Church at Coucy-le-Château, ca. 1918 (2010.83.27)

The ruined Church at Coucy-le-Château.

Unidentified Photographer, [The Cathedral of Soissons], ca. 1918 (2010.83.44)

The Cathedral of Soissons [Cathédrale Saint-Gervais-et-Saint-Protais de Soissons, 1177-1479]. destroyed by enemy bombardment during the attack in May 1918.


Unidentified Photographer, [Meuse-Argonne], September-November 1918 (2010.83.30)

Meuse Argonne. A wrecked Church-used as an evacuation station for wounded.

The Meuse-Argonne Offensive
The Meuse-Argonne Offensive was a part of the final Allied offensive of World War I. It was one of the attacks that brought an end to the War and was fought from September 26 – November 11, 1918, when the Armistice was signed.
The Meuse-Argonne Offensive was the largest operations of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in World War I, with over a million American soldiers participating. It was also the deadliest campaign in American history, resulting in over 26,000 soldiers being killed in action (KIA) and over 120,000 total casualties. Indeed, the number of graves in the American military cemetery at Romagne is far larger than those in the more commonly known site at Omaha Beach in Normandy. (Archives.gov.)

Six photos made in France shortly after the end of World War One. One hundred years ago today the armistice between the Allies and Germany was signed leading to the end of World War One.

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Charles Moore, [Voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama], 1965 (176.1991)

Matt Herron, “Vote” Marcher, Selma to Montgomery, March 1965 (2008.56.1)

Silence = Death Project, Silence = Death: Vote, 1988 (1251.2000)

Today is election day. Vote like your life depends on it… because it does.

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“A witch is talking to you”

Voila, [A witch is talking to you.], March 30, 1935 (2007.71.25)

Voila, [A witch is talking to you.], March 9, 1935 (2007.71.22)

Voila, [A witch is talking to you.] March 23, 1935 (2007.71.24)

Unidentified photographer, [Three costumed performers], ca. 1875 (2007.54.27)

Luis Buñuel, [Photo-booth portraits of Luis Buñuel], ca. 1929 (2007.25.2)

Vu, [Anti-superstitieux], April 3, 1935 (2009.61.101)

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