Freren: Luca Verlag, 1982. Limited edition. Hardcover. 1/100. Folio (12 x 9 1/2"). 110, pp. Original full brown cloth with white lettering to spine. Limitation page hand-numbered (No. 37/100). Book housed in its matching publisher's slipcase with b/w photographic reproduction pasted onto front cover.
Completed in 1936 in Palestine, where Swiss Avant-Garde portrait photographer Helmar Lerski had immigrated in 1932, "Metamorphosis through Light" is a stunning 'tour de force' in which Lerski carried his talent to extremes. With the help of up to 16 mirrors and filters, he directed the natural light of the sun in constant new variations and refractions onto his model, the Bernese-born, at the time out-of-work draughtsman and light athlete Leo Uschatz. Thus he achieved, in a series of over 140 close-ups "hundreds of different faces, including that of a hero, a prophet, a peasant, a dying soldier, an old woman and a monk from one single original face" (Siegfried Kracauer in "Theory of Film," Oxford University Press, 1960, p. 162).
According to Lerski, these pictures were intended to provide proof "that the lens does not have to be objective, that the photographer can, with the help of light, work freely, characterize freely, according to his inner face."
Laid in at rear, inside a white envelope, is a splendid silver gelatin print (10 3/4 x 8 1/2") produced by German photographer André Gelpke from Helmar Lerski's original plate. The print depicts a close-up portrait of Leo Uschatz not featured in the book. The verso has been hand-captioned, numbered and signed by Gelpke.
One of 100 copies, of which this is No. 37.
Minor shelf wear and sporadic fraying along edges of slipcase. Head of spine slightly bumped (not affecting pages throughout). Text in German and English. Slipcase in overall good+, binding in good+ to very good, interior and silver gelating print in very good condition. g+ to vg. Item #41041
About the author: Helmar Lerski (1871-1956) was born in Strasburg, then part of the German empire, as Israel Schmuklerski. His parents were Jewish immigrants of Polish origin. In 1876 the family moved to Zurich, Switzerland, where they obtained Swiss citizenship. Lerski moved to New York in 1893 at the age of twenty-two to work as an actor, changing his name in 1896. He spent several years with a German theatre company in Chicago and Milwaukee, where he met his first wife, a photographer. In 1911 Lerski began to experiment with photography by adapting dramatic stage lighting techniques to portrait photographs of fellow actors. In 1912, Lerski was encouraged to pursue a career in photography by Rudolph Dührkoop, who had come to St. Louis to demonstrate his photographic techniques. In 1914/15 he taught German language and literature at the University of Texas in Austin. In 1915, after more than twenty years in America, Lerski moved to Berlin, and after showing his portraits, was asked to become a cameraman at the UFA studios, where he worked as a cameraman and expert for special effects for many films, including Fritz Lang's movie Metropolis (1927). Lang wanted to insert the actors into shots of miniatures of skyscrapers and other buildings, so Lerski used specially made mirrors to create the illusion of actors interacting with huge, realistic-looking sets. With fascism on the rise, Lerski immigrated to Palestine where he worked as a director and cameraman for documentary films. After the war, Lerski moved back to Zurich, where he spent the rest of his life.