His family returned to New York in the 1930’s where he attended the High School of Music and Art. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Navy. He returned to civilian life in 1945 and became a diamond cutter, working on some of the world’s best known gems.
In the early 1960’s he revisited the arts of drawing and painting which he cultivated as a high school student. In the late 1970’s, he branched out into sculpture.
His work has been exhibited in many group shows, including the Queensborough Community College Holocaust Memorial Exhibitions in 1985 and 1987. In 1987, his sculptures won first prize in the Great Neck Artists Network Show. Earlier, his oils won first prize at the Fresh Meadows Outdoor Art Show in 1966.
As a sculptor, David Schwab is best known for his portrayal of people in the Middle East—Arabs and Jews. His figures, in marble, alabaster and bronze of Bedouin women and Orthodox Jewish men in their distinctive garb are evocative representations of the human mystery and the complexity of the region claimed by two peoples. In an area of the world that the artist says has fascinated him all his life and which seized his imagination early in his artistic career.
About the artistic process, Schwab acknowledges that he does not normally like to paint or sculpt form real life or use live models. "I believe in drawing, painting and sculpting from imagination, memory or both." he says. "When working from imagination and memory, there is an added dimension of power that enables me to reveal my innermost feelings and emotions."
"I try to crystallize my feelings and emotions in the human figure, the sensuality and movements of which fascinate me. What is hidden is more sensual. When I paint or sculpt, I try to allow my emotions to take over and help me relive past feelings. The mystery of life intrigues me. I have been searching for the create of life for as long as I can remember and have tried to carry on this search through my art." Many of Schwab's paintings exhibit the lonliness of the street and place associated with the work of American painter Edward Hopper, or the sculptural works of George Segal. All of these works suggest a disturbing anxiety, which may have been the artists response to events in Europe. His bronze work, on the other hand, reflects more themes from the Jewish folkloric experience."
Schwab died on October 3, 2002 in New York.
He lived with his wife, Leona, In Jamaica, Long Island.