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HomeContents > People > Photographers > August Sander

Dates:  1876, 17 November - 1964, 20 April
Born:  Germany, Siegerland, Herdorf nr. Siegen
Active:  Germany
Gender:  Male
German photographer who spent 40 years creating ‘Menschen des 20. Jahrhunderts‘ - a portrait study of all classes of German society. He also did studies of the German landscape and a highly detailed study of the city of Cologne.

Preparing biographies

Biography provided by Focal Press 
Sander’s portraits of the German people of the 1920s and 1930s made with uncompromising clarity and directness deeply influenced a century of portraiture and documentary work. In 1910, he began work on Menschen des 20 Jahrhunderts (Man of the 20th Century) which, never fully realized, was intended as a comprehensive typological portrait of German society. Eschewing the use of a traditional painted backdrop, he posed his subjects outdoors or in their own environments; his subjects represented every social strata and occupation, from formally posed industrialists to cooks in their kitchens. By organizing his full figure portraits of people into typologies, he hoped to create a total portrait of German society. The first volume of this project, Antlitz der Zeit (Face of Our Time), was published in 1929, but Sander’s work was banned and all existing books were seized and destroyed by the Nazis. Sander’s studio was bombed during the war. After the war he continued to photograph mostly landscape and architectural studies. 
(Author: Garie Waltzer - Photographer and consultant) 
Michael Peres (Editor-in-Chief), 2007, Focal Encyclopedia of Photography, 4th edition, (Focal Press) [ISBN-10: 0240807405, ISBN-13: 978-0240807409] 
(Used with permission) 

HomeContents > Further research

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Readings on, or by, individual photographers 
Brückle, Wolfgang, 2013, 25 April, ‘Face-Off in Weimar Culture: The Physiognomic Paradigm, Competing Portrait Anthologies, and August Sander’s Face of Our Time‘, Tate Papers, Issue 19 [Online:] [Δ
Hartz, John Von, 1997, August Sander, (New York: Aperture) isbn-10: 0893817481 [Δ
Heiting, Manfred (ed.), 1999, August Sander 1876–1964, (New York: Taschen) [Δ
Kemp, Wolfgang, 1981, August Sander: Rheinlandschaften. Photographien 1929-1946, (München: Schirmer) [Δ
Kölnisches Stadtmuseum (ed.), 1995, August Sander: Köln wie es war, (Cologne) [Δ
Lange, Susanne, 2009, August Sander, (Actes Sud) isbn-10: 2742777636 [French] [Δ
Long, Rose-Carol Washton, 2013, 4 April, ‘August Sander’s Portraits of Persecuted Jews‘, Tate Papers, Issue 19 [Online:] [Δ
Rowe, Dorothy, 2013, 3 April, ‘August Sander and the Artists: Locating the Subjects of New Objectivity‘, Tate Papers, Issue 19 [Online:] [Δ
Sander, August, 1929, Antlitz der Zeit, (Munich: Transmare and Kurt Wolff) [Δ
Sander, August, 1962, Deutschenspiegel: Menschen des 20. Jahrhunderts, ([Hamburg]: Sigbert Mohn) [Introduction by Heinrich Lutzeler] [Δ
Sander, August, 1973, Men Without Masks: Faces of Germany, 1910–1938, (Greenwich, CT: New York Graphic Society) [Δ
Sander, August, 1978, Winter, ‘"Lecture 5: Photography as a Universal Language", 1931‘, The Massachusetts Review, vol. 19, no. 4, pp. 674-679 [This lecture was the fifth of six radio lectures called The Nature and Growth of Photography written and delivered by Sander in 1931. The original manuscripts of all six lectures are in the REWE Library at Die Photographische Sammlung, SK Stiftung Kultur, August Sander Archive, Cologne.] [Δ
Sander, August, 1980, August Sander: Photographs of an Epoch. 1904–1959, (Millerton, NY: Aperture) [Preface by Beaumont Newhall; historical commentary by Robert Kramer] [Δ
Sander, August, 1982, August Sander Kölner Jahre bis 1938, (Köln: Stadtverwaltung) [Δ
Sander, August, 1986, August Sander: Citizens of the Twentieth Century: Portrait Photographs 1892–1952, (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press) [Edited by Gunther Sander] [Δ
Sander, August, 2003, Antlitz der Zeit, (Munich: Schirmer/Mosel) [Δ
Sander, August, 2004, August Sander: Photographs of the German Landscape, (Washingon: The Phillips Collection) isbn-10: 0943044332 [Exhibition catalogue] [Δ
Sander, August & Bohn-Spector, Claudia, 2000, In Focus: August Sander: Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum, (J. Paul Getty Museum) isbn-13: 978-0892365678 [Δ
Steeves, George, 2013, August Sander: Objective Romantic, (Halifax, NS, Canada: Mount St. Vincent Art Gallery) isbn-13: 978-1894518697 [Exhibition catalogue, September 7 - October 20, 2013] [Δ
Tubb, Katherine, 2013, 23 April, ‘Face to Face? An Ethical Encounter with Germany’s Dark Strangers in August Sander’s People of the Twentieth Century‘, Tate Papers, Issue 19 [Online:] [Δ
Weikop, Christian, 2013, 20 March, ‘August Sander’s Der Bauer and the Pervasiveness of the Peasant Tradition‘, Tate Papers, Issue 19 [Online:] [Δ
If you feel this list is missing a significant book or article please let me know - Alan -
August Sander
August Sander 
Family history 
If you are related to this photographer and interested in tracking down your extended family we can place a note here for you to help. It is free and you would be amazed who gets in touch.
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Exhibitions on this website

Theme: Documentary
ThumbnailAugust Sander: People of the 20th Century: Portraits of German Citizens 1910-1940 
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Visual indexes

ThumbnailAugust Sander: Architecture
ThumbnailAugust Sander: Books
ThumbnailAugust Sander: Cologne
ThumbnailAugust Sander: Landscapes
ThumbnailAugust Sander: Night
ThumbnailAugust Sander: People of the 20th Century
ThumbnailAugust Sander: Persecution
All photographs by this photographer 

Internet biographies

Terms and Conditions

Wikipedia has a biography of this photographer.Show on this siteGo to website
Getty Research, Los Angeles, USA has an ULAN (Union List of Artists Names Online) entry for this photographer. This is useful for checking names and they frequently provide a brief biography. Go to website
Grove Art Online ( has a biography of this artist. 
[NOTE: This is a subscription service and you will need to pay an annual fee to access the content.]
Show on this siteGo to website
The Cleveland Museum of Art, USA has a biography on this photographer. [Scroll down the page on this website as the biography may not be immediately visible.]Show on this siteGo to website
The International Photographers Hall of Fame has provided a biography.Show on this siteGo to website

Printed biographies

The following books are useful starting points to obtain brief biographies but they are not substitutes for the monographs on individual photographers.

• Beaton, Cecil & Buckland, Gail 1975 The Magic Eye: The Genius of Photography from 1839 to the Present Day (Boston and Toronto: Little, Brown & Company) p.140 [Useful short biographies with personal asides and one or more example images.] 
• Capa, Cornell (ed.) 1984 The International Center of Photography: Encyclopedia of Photography (New York, Crown Publishers, Inc. - A Pound Press Book) p.443-444 
• Coke, Van Deren with Diana C. Du Pont 1986 Photography: A Facet of Modernism (New York: Hudson Hills Press, The San Francisco Museum of Art) p.183 
• International Center of Photography 1999 Reflections in a Glass Eye: Works from the International Center of Photography Collection (New York: A Bulfinch Press Book) p.227 [Includes a well written short biography on August Sander with example plate(s) earlier in book.] 
• Weaver, Mike (ed.) 1989 The Art of Photography 1839-1989 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press) p.465 [This exhibition catalogue is for the travelling exhibition that went to Houston, Canberra and London in 1989.] 
• Witkin, Lee D. and Barbara London 1979 The Photograph Collector’s Guide (London: Secker and Warburg) p.228-229 [Long out of print but an essential reference work - the good news is that a new edition is in preparation.] 

Useful printed stuff

If there is an analysis of a single photograph or a useful self portrait I will highlight it here.

• Gruber, Renate and L. Fritz Gruber 1982 The Imaginary Photo Museum (New York: Harmony Books) p.258-259 
• Koetzle, Hans-Michael 2002 Photo Icons: The Story Behind the Pictures - Volume 1 (Koln: Taschen) [This book discusses one photograph "Young Farmers (1914)" by August Sander in considerable detail. An excellent source for a detailed analysis.] 
• Naef, Weston 1995 The J. Paul Getty Museum - Handbook of the Photographic Collection (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum) p.168, 171 
• Naef, Weston 2004 Photographers of Genius at the Getty (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum) [For this photographer there is a description and three sample photographs from the Getty collection. p.96-99] 
• Newhall, Beaumont 1982 The History of Photography - Fifth Edition (London: Secker & Warburg) [One or more photographs by August Sander are included in this classic history.] 
• Szarkowski, John 1973 Looking at Photographs: 100 Pictures from the Collection of The Museum of Modern Art (New York: The Museum of Modern Art) p.102 [Analyzes a single photograph by August Sander.] 


Photographic collections are a useful means of examining large numbers of photographs by a single photographer on-line. 

In the 1990 survey of 535 American photographic collections August Sander was represented in 51 of the collections. Source: Andrew H. Eskind & Greg Drake (eds.) 1990 Index to American Photographic Collections [Second Enlarged Edition] (Boston, Massachusetts: G.K. Hall & Co.) 
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