August Sander, Maler [Heinrich Hoerle], 1928, Silbergelatineabzug, 59,3 x 47,7 cm, Sammlung Lothar Schirmer, München, © Die Photographische Sammlung, SK Stiftung Kultur – August Sander Archiv, Köln, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014.

August Sander, Stadtwald, um 1938, Silbergelatineabzug, 23 x 29 cm, Sammlung Lothar Schirmer, München, © Die Photographische Sammlung, SK Stiftung Kultur – August Sander Archiv, Köln, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014.

August Sander, Der Rhein bei Boppard, Osterspey, 1938, Silbergelatineabzug, 22,9 x 29,3 cm, Sammlung Lothar Schirmer, München, © Die Photographische Sammlung, SK Stiftung Kultur – August Sander Archiv, Köln, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014.

August Sander, beyond Sociology, Documenting Time and Environment

August Sander, Der erdgebundene Mensch, 1910, Silbergelatineabzug, 29,2 x 23,1 cm, Sammlung Lothar Schirmer, München, © Die Photographische Sammlung, SK Stiftung Kultur – August Sander Archiv, Köln, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014.

August Sander, Bauernpaar – Zucht und Harmonie, 1912, Silbergelatineabzug, 29,5 x 23,1 cm, Sammlung Lothar Schirmer, München, © Die Photographische Sammlung, SK Stiftung Kultur – August Sander Archiv, Köln, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014.

August Sander, Der Dadaist Raoul Hausmann [mit Hedwig Mankiewitz und Vera Broïdo], 1929, Silbergelatineabzug, 26,8 x 21,6 cm, Sammlung Lothar Schirmer, München, © Die Photographische Sammlung, SK Stiftung Kultur – August Sander Archiv, Köln, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014.

 

Pinakothek der Moderne
Barer Straße 40
+ 49 89 23805360
Münich
Sammlung Moderne Kunst in the Pinakothek der Moderne
People in a River Landscape. August Sander and the Photography of the Present from the Lothar Schirmer Collection
April 4-August 8, 2014

August Sander’s epochal cycle People of the 20th Century is considered one of the most important works in the history of art and photography of the last century. His striking picture of German society, created in the dramatic decades between the Weimar Republic and the immediate post-war period, not only fascinated artists, writers and philosophers of that period but — due to the artist’s sociological motivation, his serial, typological approach and strictly documentary interest — also formed an important point of reference for the artistic concept contemporary photographers had of themselves. This is reflected in the Munich publisher Lothar Schirmer’s photographic collection, the starting point of which was a group of some 80 works by the artist.

This batch of works, acquired from the artist’s estate back in the 1970s, comprises more than 40 originals of Sander’s famous portraits, including masterpieces such as the Stammmappe focussing on farmers in Westerwald, the portrait ofartist Heinrich Hoerle in the austere style of New Objectivity and Handlanger, with its impressive visual directness, but also a rare group of lesser known Rhineland landscapes and vedute of Cologne from the 1930s. Precisely the last two groups of works mentioned are enduring proof that Sander’s vision of an equally authentic and veritable document of the times was not only to be limited to people within their social and societal structure but should also include surroundings, landscape and urban environment — an aspect that, for a long time, was given little attention in analyses of the photographer’s work since his death in April, fifty years ago.

In view of the importance of Sander’s portraits, it is surpising that a more extensive selection of the photographer’s work is only now seen in People in a River Landscape — and that in Munich too, although there were in fact a number of links between the artist and the city. Sander’s pioneering photography book, Antlitz der Zeit, was published in 1929 by Munich-based Kurt Wolff Verlag; one year later, his works were to be seen in the exhibition Das Lichtbild — a rare presentation of Sander’s works anywhere before 1933; and in the 1960s and 1970s his estate was stored near Munich.

The exhibition presents a representative and focused cross section of Sander’s photographic oeuvre. It also shows photography in a wider perspective by placing individual groups of works by Sander in dialogue with those of contemporary artists. Starting with a typology by Bernd and Hilla Becher, whose structured work can be regarded as an immediately successor to Sander’s photographic credo, the selection — supplemented by works from the holdings of the Sammlung Moderne Kunst — includes Andreas Gursky’s Rhine picture, urban views by Thomas Struth and Jeff Wall and portraits by Thomas Ruff and Cindy Sherman, among others. The interplay between the past and the present, between small-format, black-and-white prints and color images the size of large canvases, between austere documentary works and staged and digitally processed pictures, not only illustrates the immediate relevance of Sander’s concept, far beyond any temporal or formal distinctions, but also how photography has become established as an artistic form of expression in its own right within the context of contemporary art. This topic is explored in greater depth in the accompanying series of lectures Why Photography Matters, at which the artists Hilla Becher and Thomas Struth, as well as the art historians Wolfgang Kemp and Michael Fried will be speaking. As a modest homage to another historical precursor, the exhibition finishes with a rare group of photographs of Berlin by Heinrich Zille taken at the turn of the century, which Thomas Struth enlarged and reinterpreted in 1985 using the original negatives.

Curator of the exhibition is Inka Graeve Ingelmann.

August Sander, Handlanger, 1928, 43,0 x 28,5 cm, Silbergelatineabzug, Sammlung Lothar Schirmer, München, © Die Photographische Sammlung, SK Stiftung Kultur – August Sander Archiv, Köln, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014.

August Sander, Der Architekt [Hans Poelzig], 1929, Silbergelatineabzug, 40 x 29,8 cm, Sammlung Lothar Schirmer, München, © Die Photographische Sammlung, SK Stiftung Kultur – August Sander Archiv, Köln, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014.

August Sander, Alter Posthof in Bacharach, 1926, Silbergelatineabzug, 15,3 x 21,4 cm, Sammlung Lothar Schirmer, München, © Die Photographische Sammlung, SK Stiftung Kultur – August Sander Archiv, Köln, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014.

August Sander, Die Familie in der Generation, 1912, Silbergelatineabzug, 21,5 x 28,6 cm, Sammlung Lothar Schirmer, München, © Die Photographische Sammlung, SK Stiftung Kultur – August Sander Archiv, Köln, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014.

Jeff Wall, The Thinker, 1986, Großbilddia in Leuchtkasten, 216 x 229 cm, Sammlung Lothar Schirmer, München, Courtesy of the artist, © Jeff Wall.

Thomas Ruff, Porträt (T. Ruff), [Selbstportät], 1987, C-Print/Diasec 210 x 165 cm, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014.

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964), Young girl in a Carnival Wagon, Düren, 1929, Gelatin silver print, 29.4 x 22.9 cm, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, © J. Paul Getty Trust, 84.XM.126.223.

August Sander (German, 1876-1964), Circus Artistes, 1926-32, Gelatin silver print, © Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur – August Sander Archiv, Cologne, ARS, New York, 2004.

August Sander's Poignant Portraits of German People of the 20th Century

August Sander (German, 1876-1964), Bohemian, 1922, Gelatin silver print, 21.9 x 17 cm, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, © J. Paul Getty Trust, 84.XM.126.131.

August Sander (German, 1876-1964), Peasant woman, Westerwald, 1912, Gelatin silver print, 23 x 17.5 cm, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, © J. Paul Getty Trust, 84.XM.126.169.

August Sander (German, 1876-1964), Blind Children, Düren, about 1930, Gelatin silver print, 23.5 x 16.8 cm, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, © J. Paul Getty Trust, 84.XM.126.107.

 

J. Paul Getty Museum
Getty Center

1200 Getty Center Drive
Los Angeles
310-440-7300
August Sander:
People of the Twentieth Century
May 6-September 14, 2008

A collective portrait of the German people during the first half of the 20th century will be on view in August Sander: People of the Twentieth Century. A pioneering photographer, August Sander (German, 1876-1964), worked throughout his life to create an “atlas” of his fellow citizens, arranging his portraits in groupings according to their classes and professions, as well as their association with the country or the city.

Sander’s project remained unfinished, despite his dedication to it over five decades. Organized into seven groupings (farmers, skilled tradesmen, women, classes and professions, artists, the city, and the so-called “last people” or the disabled and disenfranchised) and 45 portfolios, about 700 photographs have been identified as belonging to this “cultural work in photographic pictures.”

“Sander's images have an appeal that is timeless and universal,” says Virginia Heckert, associate curator for the Getty Museum’s Department of Photographs. “By striving for straightforward, objective depictions,

Sander hoped to tell the truth about his generation. By classifying his sitters by profession or social class rather than identifying them by name, he created portraits of types that remain relevant today, rather than individuals who are forgotten with the passing of history.”

Forty years after his death, Sander remains one of the most compelling — and enigmatic — photographers of the twentieth century. His long and prolific career spanned one of the most turbulent times in his country’s history. The Great War of 1914, the Weimar Republic, the reign of National Socialism, and the horrors of World War II left an indelible imprint on Sander and his work.

Following training as a commercial photographer throughout Germany and ten years with a photographic studio in Austria, Sander set up a portrait studio in Lindenthal, a suburb of Cologne, in 1910. There, he renewed his contacts with the rural families of the neighboring Westerwald region where he had grown up, while also concentrating on a growing clientele of skilled tradespeople and professionals.

The exhibition includes 125 portraits from the Getty Museum’s collection of over 1200 Sander photographs, second in size only to the August Sander Archiv in Cologne, which houses his estate. The Getty Museum’s strong holding enables a broad view of Sander’s work, with both signed exhibition prints and postcards that Sander produced in his daily commercial practice.

Among these are iconic photographs such as Young Farmers (1914), in which Sander focused his lens on three young farmers, creating a cinematographic quality as their heads turn to face the camera, and Tenor (1928), in which Leonardo Aramesco literally performs before Sander’s lens as seen by the exaggerated position of his hands, lively shock of hair and melodramatic gaze.

The exhibition was co-curated by Virginia Heckert, associate curator, Getty Museum’s Department of Photographs, and Judy Annear, senior curator of photography, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, where the presentation was on view this winter.

August Sander: People of the Twentieth Century will be shown alongside the exhibition Bernd and Hilla Becher: Basic Forms. The Bechers, a husband and wife team, collaborated to photograph industrial architecture in Western Europe and the United States beginning in 1959. Their approach is directly indebted to August Sander’s categorization of basic social types by profession and class and many of the Bechers early images were taken in the Siegen district, where Sander’s subjects had lived or worked half a century before.

August Sander (born November 17, 1876 in Herdorf, Germany; died April 20, 1964 in Cologne) was a German portrait and documentary photographer.

Sander was the son of a carpenter working in the mining industry. While working at a local mine, Sander first learned about photography by assisting a photographer who was working for a mining company. With financial support from his uncle, he bought photographic equipment and set up his own darkroom.

He spent his military service (1897-1899) as a photographer's assistant, and the next years wandering across Germany. In 1901, he started working for a photo studio in Linz, eventually becoming a partner (1902), and then its sole proprietor (1904). He left Linz at the end of 1909 and set up a new studio in Cologne.

In the early 1920s, Sander joined the "Group of Progressive Artists" in Cologne and began plans to document contemporary society in a portrait series. In 1927, Sander and writer Ludwig Mathar traveled through Sardinia for three months, where he took around 500 photographs. However, a planned book detailing his travels was not completed.

Sander's first book Face of our Time was published in 1929. It contains a selection of 60 portraits from his series People of the 20th Century. Under the Nazi regime, his work and personal life were greatly constrained. His son Erich, who was a member of the left wing Socialist Workers' Party (SAP), was arrested in 1934 and sentenced to 10 years in prison, where he died in 1944, shortly before the end of his sentence. Sander's book Face of our Time was seized in 1936 and the photographic plates destroyed. Around 1942, during World War II, he left Cologne and moved to a rural area, allowing him to save most of his negatives. His studio was destroyed in a 1944 bombing raid.

Sander's work includes landscape, nature, architecture, and street photography, but he is most well known for his portraits, as exemplified by his series People of the 20th Century. In this series, he aims to show a cross-section of society during the Weimar Republic. The series is divided into seven sections: The Farmer, The Skilled Tradesman, The Woman, Classes and Professions, The Artists, The City, and The Last People (homeless persons, veterans, etc.). By 1945, Sander's archive included over 40,000 images.

August Sander (German, 1876-1964), Architect Hans Heinz Lyttgen and his Wife Dora, 1926.