August Sander

The Sage (1913)

About this artwork

August Sander’s ambition to create a photographic documentation of all ‘types’ of German people resulted in the collection ‘The People of the 20th Century’. He divided his project into seven groups and the series began with photographs of rural farmers in the Westerwald region, in a group he called ‘The Farmer’. This photograph stands out for its relative informality; since many of his early portraits were commissioned. Very tightly framed, this portrait omits narrative background detail and the gestural communication of the subject’s hands, while the natural light, which Sander sought, evenly illuminates the man’s deeply etched face. The intimacy suggested by its close frame is echoed in the subject’s every-day rough-spun clothing and untrimmed beard. Shot outdoors, the scene suggests a fleeting, but typical moment of daily life within the man’s familiar environment.

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  • title: The Sage
  • accession number: AL00005
  • artist: August SanderGerman (1874 - 1964)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Photograph
  • medium: Embossed paper in frame
  • date created: 1913
  • measurements: 25.90 x 19.00 cm (paper 44.00 x 34.00 cm; mount: 46.00 x 36.00 cm; frame: 48.20 x 38.20 x 3.20 cm)
  • credit line: ARTIST ROOMS National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. Lent by Anthony d'Offay 2010
  • copyright: © Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur - August Sander Archiv, Köln/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn and DACS, London 2016.
This artwork is part of Artist Rooms

August Sander

August Sander

Considered one of the finest photographers of the twentieth century, Sander's bold style of portrait photography, as well as his typological approach, has had an enormous influence on modern photography. During his apprenticeship in several German studios and his time in his own studio in Austria, he developed his individual style. Then in 1910 Sander moved to Cologne and produced his first large group of photographs, which he later included in his concept "People of the 20th Century". This was created in the mid-1920s and compiled up until the 1950s. He photographed groups of people in his native Germany, classifying them according to their occupations and positions in society.