August Sander, ‘National Socialist, c. 1938’, Galerie Julian Sander

Image rights: (C)Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur, Köln; courtesy of FEROZ Galerie, Bonn

About August Sander

Declaring “let me speak the truth in all honesty about our age,” foremost 20th-century German photographer August Sander spent his life documenting his fellow countrymen in straightforward, dignified portraits. His early training as a painter informed his exquisitely composed, minutely detailed gelatin silver photographs. In 1910, Sander embarked upon the epic project that would bring him into conflict with the Nazis, as well as late fame: Menschen des 20. Jahrhunderts (People of the Twentieth Century) (1910-50s). Using a large-format camera and long exposure times, he amassed hundreds of portraits, forming a typology of German society during the two World Wars, shaped by his philosophy about the distinct groups by which it is structured. Sander was a cipher. He disappeared behind his lens, picturing farmers, merchants, civil servants, intellectuals, gypsies, and the insane so that they could be seen.

German, 1876-1964, Herdorf, near Siegen, Germany, based in Cologne, Germany