Eli Lotar – The Romanian Lost Son of The Avant-garde

After last year’s great reception of Isidore Isou’s film “Venom and Eternity” (1951), Romanian Cultural Centre in London (RCC) has the pleasure to present the work of Eli Lotar, another less known Romanian born avant-garde artist. To introduce him to our audience and illustrate his contribution to art history, we selected two documentaries: “Aubervilliers” (1946), directed by himself, and Henri Storck’s “The Houses of Misery” (Les Maisons de la misère) (1937) where Lotar worked as cameraman.

The films are fine examples of subversive and radical social documentaries drawing upon the aesthetic traditions of negation, critique and provocation. Artists like Lotar and Storck used montage, collage and appropriation to produce radical artistic interventions which echoed in the social reality of those troubled times. The ripples of those echoes still topical nowadays.

Eli Lotar (Eliazar Lotar Theodoresco, 1905–1969) can be easily placed among the most important artists of the 20th century. From his beginnings in photography, in the 1920s, as assistant of Germaine Krull, Eli Lotar was particularly interested in industrial architecture and the life of the working class, in accordance with a political commitment clearly marked on the left. With his “Slaughterhouses of La Villette” series, published in George Bataille’s journal “Documents” in 1929, Lotar became an iconic figure of the visual surrealist movement, yet one often unfairly marginalised in the history of art.

Although known for his photography, Lotar also worked as a cameraman on numerous cinematographic projects with filmmakers such as René Clair, Luis Buñuel, Jacques Brunius, Joris Ivens, Jean Painlevé, and Jean Renoir. He was renowned for his amazing technical prowess, using the camera as a discovering agent, ferreting out the essence of a scene.

For more details about the films please follow the link:

Special thanks go to Prof. Steven Ungar, Fatras / Succession Jacques Prévert, The Henri Storck Foundation.

The event will be followed by a reception sponsored by Deli Twist.

Photo credits: Still from the movie “Aubervilliers” – Swiss Film library / © Eli Lotar