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Helmar Lerski, pionnier de la lumière

Directed by Nicolas Feuille

His name -actually the pseudonym of Israel Schmuklerski- sounds like that of a Finnish long-distance runner, or an Austrian Spartakist. He is neither of the two, but deep inside, a little of both. A Jew from Strasbourg who lived in Switzerland, the USA, and Germany, Helmar Lerski (1871-1956) uses photography as a political weapon, taking photographs of the pioneers in Palestine in the thirties. He was fascinated by the portrait, and he sculpted the body and in particular the face like the antique sculptors of marble. He never imagined that this fashionable theme would soon become a heaven-sent for the new racial theories. An exhibition at the musée d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaïsme allows the visitor to rediscover this widely forgotten champion of the avant guards. A short note from the director, Paul Salmona, allows us to understand the chaotic history of the purchase of this series, which could have dragged on for years had it led to a trial, as this matter is ruled by the laws of four different countries: France, Switzerland, Israel and England as it governed Palestine at the time.

Helmar Lerski, pionnier de la lumière, Gallimard, 2017, directed by Nicolas Feuille, Gallimard, 2018, 176 p., €32.

Helmar Lerski, pionnier de la lumière - Directed by Nicolas Feuille

Review published in the newsletter #512 - from 26 April 2018 to 2 May 2018

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