AN “ALTERNATELY HARSH AND BEATIFYING LIGHT”: FIRST EDITION OF LERSKI’S DER MENSCH MEIN BRUDER, 1958, WITH 79 DRAMATIC PHOTOGRAVURE PORTRAITS
LERSKI, Helmar. Der Mensch Mein Bruder [Mankind. My Brother]. Dresden: Verlag der Kunst, (1958). Folio, original tan cloth, original photographic dust jacket. $750.
First edition, a compelling retrospective tribute published shortly after Lerski’s death, with 79 silvery photogravures by this “key influence on Germany’s Neue Sachlichkeit”-a pioneering figure whose “eerie and transfixing” Expressionist style (Roth) made him a leading Weimar cinematographer and portrait photographer. Scarce in original dust jacket.
“A key influence on Germany’s Neue Sachlichkeit or New Objectivity movement” (Roth, 68), the Swiss-born Helmar Lerski was also a pioneering “stills photographer, special-effects director and cameraman on a number of masterpieces of German expressionist film in the 1920s.” As seen here in this scarce retrospective tribute published shortly after his death, “Lerski’s still photography consisted mainly of portraits… Using studio lights and a system of mirrors he lit them in an intensely dramatic, hyperbolic way that reflects the Expressionist lighting of the films on which he worked” (Parr & Badger I:130). “The effect is eerie and transfixing; some of the faces appear as if underwater, others as if they were bathed in the alternately harsh and beatifying light of revelation” (Roth, 68). With 79 black-and-white photogravure plates; photogravure portrait of Lerski by Ganan affixed as frontispiece. Essays in German by Louis Fürnberg, Berthold Viertel and Arnold Zweig.
Images clean and fresh; some closed tears, unrestored dust jacket with chipping to spine head, just affecting printing. Quite scarce in original dust jacket.