August Sander

Secretary at West German Radio, Cologne, 1931 (1931)

About this artwork

August Sander included this striking portrait in the portfolio entitled ‘Occupation’ within the group ‘The Woman’ in his photographic opus ‘People of the 20th Century’. Her dark silk dress decorated with floral embroidery, the secretary perches awkwardly with hunched shoulders on a wooden chair, smoking a cigarette. Her upheld right hand is drawn almost to her lips, which are slightly parted as if in exhalation. With her short hair, lipstick and carefully shaped eyebrows, this ‘Secretary at West German Radio in Cologne’ is a very fashionable woman, who may be seen as representing the ‘new’ woman of the day, much like Otto Dix’s painting ‘Portrait of the Journalist Sylvia von Harden’ (1926). The flat plane of the matt white wall behind her frames the gleaming satin folds of her garment, while Sander’s crop accentuates his subject’s tall thin frame, despite her slouched posture, in a portrait that emanates glamour and poise.

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  • title: Secretary at West German Radio, Cologne, 1931
  • accession number: AL00054
  • artist: August SanderGerman (1874 - 1964)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Photograph
  • medium: Embossed paper in frame
  • date created: 1931
  • measurements: 26.00 x 14.90 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.