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Young Girl Selling Fruit

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Helmar Lerski (1871–1956)1928–1931Germanysilver gelatine, retouched22,8 x 16,9 cm

Helmar Lerski’s portraits show views of a person restricted to narrow sections, which, rather than aspiring to reveal the essence of the person’s character, try to show their changeability. Lerski’s publication “Heads of Everyday Life”, in which the young fruit-seller is portrayed, shows each of his models in a series of perspectives; he varies the lighting, sectional view and the perspective. Lerski “models” his models, transforming them, as he says in the introduction to the book, into “a master actor, representing as many roles as there are photographs to be made of them”. The titles pursue the interest of his epoch in figures perceived as typical. His portraits bear titles such as the porter, farmer’s boy or revolutionary worker. But the professions, most of them working class, make the effect of being arbitrarily assigned roles rather than having anything essentially connected with the person portrayed.