August Sander

At the turn of the twentieth century August Sander (1876-1964) was in military service and an assistant in a photographic studio in Trier, Germany. He then spent the following two years working in various studios elsewhere and by 1904 he had opened his own studio in Linz, Austria, where he was met with success. He moved to a suburb of Cologne in 1909, and soon began to photograph the rural farmers nearby. Around three years later Sander abandoned his urban studio in favour of photographing in the field, finding subjects along the roads he traveled by bicycle.


This became what is now known as Sander's monumental lifelong  photographic project: Man of the Twentieth Century. Documenting the people of his native Westerwald, near Cologne and stating that “[w]e know that people are formed by the light and air, by their inherited traits, and their actions. We can tell from appearance the work someone does or does not do; we can read in his face whether he is happy or troubled,” Sander photographed subjects from all walks of life and created a typological catalogue of more than six hundred photographs of the German people. Although the Nazis banned the portraits in the 1930s, because the subjects did not adhere to the ideal Aryan type, Sander continued to make photographs. After 1934, his work turned increasingly to nature and architectural studies.


Today, Sander is considered one of the most influential photographers of the twentieth century and his work can be found in prestigious museum collections worldwide.