August Sander

Handlanger [Bricklayer], 1928 (1928)

About this artwork

This is one of August Sander’s most iconic photographs, a bold and compelling portrait that displays his artistic skill at its best. The power of the image stems from its dramatic lighting, through which the bricklayer’s face, framed by bricks, emerges into clarity from the darkness behind. He stares directly into the lens, confident and assured. One hand is held to his hip while the other supports the bricks balanced precariously on a palette on his shoulders. This photograph belongs to Sander’s ambitious project ‘People of the 20th Century’, which was based on a quasi sociological analysis of Germany during this time. Sander divided his portraits into seven main groups: ‘The Farmer’, ‘The Skilled Tradesman’, ‘The Woman’, ‘Classes and Professions’, ‘The Artists, The City’ and ‘The Last People’. This photograph is from the group ‘The Skilled Tradesman’.

see media
  • title: Handlanger [Bricklayer], 1928
  • accession number: AL00038
  • artist: August SanderGerman (1874 - 1964)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Photograph
  • subject: Documentary Working classes
  • medium: Embossed paper in frame
  • date created: 1928
  • measurements: 26.00 x 18.30 cm (paper 44.00 x 33.90 cm; mount: 46.00 x 36.00 cm) (framed: 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.