August Sander: People of the 20th Century

A Cultural Work in Photographs

Photographs by August Sander. Edited by Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur, Cologne. Text by Gabriele Conrath-Scholl ...


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A landmark in the history of modern art, People of the 20th Century presents the fullest expression of the German photographer August Sander’s lifelong work: a monumental endeavor to amass an archive of twentieth-century humanity through a cross section of German culture.

Sander photographed subjects from all walks of life, capturing bankers and boxers, soldiers and circus performers, farmers and families, to create a catalog of the German people, arranged by their profession, gender, and social status. First imagined in the 1920s, he pursued the project for more than fifty years during a politically charged and rapidly changing time, fraught by two world wars and the devastating repercussions of Nazism. Sander never finished the seven-volume, forty-nine portfolio magnum opus, continually refining and shaping it to convey an understanding of the world in which he lived. The photographs, remarkable for their unflinching realism and deft analysis of character, provide a powerful social mirror of Germany between the wars and form one of the most influential achievements of the twentieth century.

Now made available again, People of the 20th Century brings together the exquisite reproductions and principle texts of the long out-of-print, seven-volume edition, as well as the main scholarship from the accompanying study edition. This all-in-one edition, with 619 photographs, offers the most comprehensive iteration of Sander’s still-essential vision.

Format: Hardback
Number of pages: 808
Number of images: 619
Publication date: 2022-08-16
Measurements: 9.38 x 11.69 x 2.5 inches
ISBN: 9781597115414

Photographs by August Sander. Edited by Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur, Cologne. Text by Gabriele Conrath-Scholl and Susanne Lange.

August Sander (born in Herdorf, Germany, 1876; died in Cologne, 1964) is lauded as one the most important portrait photographers of the twentieth century. From a farming and mining community east of Cologne, Sander first discovered photography at the local mine, while helping to carry the equipment of a company photographer. He went on to become involved with many of the avant-garde artistic ideas of his day, including the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity), a movement led by his friend, the painter Otto Dix, which espoused realism and social commentary in art. He is best known for his series People of the 20th Century, which captured German society in an unflinching, typological approach that shaped the medium and has gone on to influence generations of artists.
Gabriele Conrath-Scholl is director of Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur, Cologne, which includes the August Sander Archive. She studied visual arts under Bernd Becher and art history at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. She is the author of numerous publications and has curated various exhibitions devoted to August Sander, as well as Bernd and Hilla Becher, Karl Blossfeldt, Hans Eijkelboom, Francesco Neri, Judith Joy Ross, Rosalind Solomon, and Thomas Struth.
Susanne Lange is an art historian based in Cologne, specializing in conceptual photography. Lange formerly served as the director of Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur, Cologne. She wrote her dissertation on the work of Bernd and Hilla Becher and has authored numerous publications on August Sander, as well as William Christenberry, Marcel Broodthaers, and Jeff Wall.

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