August Sander (November 17, 1876 – April 20, 1964) was a German photographer and one of the most important figures in the history of photography. He is best known for his work on portraiture and his groundbreaking social documentary series, People of the 20th Century. His photographs are characterized by a clarity of composition and a frankness of expression that capture the spirit of the people he photographed.
Sander was born in Herdorf, Germany and trained as a carpenter before becoming interested in photography. He learned the craft in the studio of a photographer in Koblenz, and in 1903 opened his own portrait studio in Cologne. He began his project People of the 20th Century in the 1920s, a series of photographs of different social classes in Germany. He sought to capture the essence of each person he photographed, and was particularly interested in the effects of industrialization on the lives of ordinary people.
Sander's work was seen as controversial in the early 1930s, when the Nazi party attempted to control the arts. His photographs of disabled veterans, homosexuals, and other marginalized groups ran counter to the Nazi aesthetic, and as a result his work was banned from public display. Despite this censorship, his photographs continued to be admired by many, and in the years after World War II his work began to receive critical acclaim.
Sander's work is considered to be a cornerstone of modern photography. His photographs are not only technically excellent, but also capture the spirit and the essence of the people he photographed. His work has influenced generations of photographers, and continues to influence contemporary photography.
Sander's work has been exhibited in galleries and museums around the world, and his photographs are included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. In 2009, the August Sander Archive was established in Cologne, Germany, to preserve and promote his legacy.
August Sander was a pioneering photographer who created a powerful visual record of the people of the 20th century. His photographs are both aesthetically beautiful and emotionally powerful, and his work continues to inspire photographers and viewers today.
Art Of Photography episode on August Sander.
August Sander, Portraits.