The German portraitist August Sander first came into the realm of photography when he became a photo assistant of an anonymous company photographer. With enough experience, he was able to become a photographer himself as he and his uncle bought equipment and his very own darkroom.
Known as the most important portrait photographer of Germany, he spent his early days in the last years of the 19th century wandering Germany as an assistant. His first studio was in Linz, Austria, and then he moved to Cologne. In 1911, he began his first major portrait-work, named “People of the 20th Century”. In this series, he photographed the radical group of artists named the “Cologne Progressives”: a workers' movement by artists.
Sander became the pioneer of documentary-conceptual photography and represented the sharply-focused, anti-Pictorialist aesthetic movement, New Objectivity. Sander's most well-known work is the series “The Face of Our Time”, developed in 1924. The book was a visual analysis of the German people and the Weimar Republic as he compared and observed people and social groups divided into seven parts: ‘The Farmer’, ‘The Skilled Tradesman’, ‘The Woman’, ‘Classes and Professions’, ‘The Artists’, ‘The City’ and ‘The Last People’.
Highly fascinated by people’s clothing, posture, and gestures expressed in urban settings, Sanders enjoyed studying the relationship of men and women in all sorts of different communities. He shot those experiencing the Nazi regime, the Nazis themselves and the bohemian artists to come up with a portrait of the German people during the war.
Sander's invaluable contributions to urban, social photography can be seen at the August Sander: Portrait of a City at the WestLicht Museum in Vienna until May 20.
Images are from the press kit.