Helmar Lerski

Collection of 88 vintage prints – the visual material of the original maquette for the book ‘Der Mensch – Mein Bruder’, 1912-1944

Vintage gelatin silver print
29,8 × 23,8 cm
Titled on verso

Lerski managed to reverse our traditional notion of portrait art without applying any of supernatural technical devices. It was all about the concept, the approach of an artist to the portrait execution. He neither followed the well-trodden way of attaining meticulous likeness of a portrait and a model nor he tried to render the individual features of a face. With the help of numerous mirrors and specific filters he managed to achieve such a forceful light-and- shade effects that the surface of a man’s face began o look like a sculptural landscape, abstract relief.

“Light is a proof, that a photographer can create freely, following his mind’s eye, like a painter, designer, or sculptor”.

The Palestine portraits became one of Lerski’s most important work series as a photographer. After several trips to Palestine since 1931 Lerski introduced to the world the portrait series of such an expressiveness and formal innovation that its appearance crossed the limits of simply an art event and called the ideological, nationalistic and religious discussions. While creating his famous Judaic portraits, the artist was obsessed by the idea of the official documentation of Jewish nation characters in all its importance and grandeur.

“I want to show only the prototype in all its off-shoots, and, what is more, I want to show him so intensely that the prototype is recognizable in all later branches”.

Later this series was enhanced by the Arab characters and hands portraits exhibited thereafter in the Tel-Aviv Museum (1945).

An intellectual, a person of multimedia consciousness having been for not less than half a century ahead of his time. Nowadays Helmar Lerski together with Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Steichen, is acknowledged in the professional environment as one of the classics and main innovators of the 20 century photography.

Helmar Lerski. Gary Tatintsian Gallery, Moscow, Russia. February – March 2008

more works by artist

Helmar Lerski