August Sander

Frau eines Malers [Painter’s Wife] (Helene Abelen], about 1926 (about 1926)

About this artwork

For over 50 years Sander photographed individuals and groups of people in his native Germany, classifying them according to their occupations and positions in society. This lifelong attempt to document the German people resulted in the ambitious project entitled ‘People of the 20th Century’. This is a photograph of Helene Abelen, the wife of the painter and architect, Peter Abelen. It is included in the portfolio entitled ‘The Elegant Woman’ in the project’s third group, ‘The Woman’. Abelen’s strong bohemian character is suggested by her pose and costume: holding a cigarette between clenched teeth, she looks directly at the camera while her hands are occupied in striking a match. Her left foot raised, she appears to walk towards the camera, shining out against the background in her masculine white shirt and tie and baggy trousers.

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  • title: Frau eines Malers [Painter’s Wife] (Helene Abelen], about 1926
  • accession number: AL00052
  • artist: August SanderGerman (1874 - 1964)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Photograph
  • subject: Documentary
  • medium: Embossed paper in frame
  • date created: about 1926
  • measurements: 25.70 x 18.70 cm (paper 44.00 x 34.00 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.