August Sander

Composer [Hermann Hans Wetzler], 1920-5 (1920 - 1925)

About this artwork

August Sander’s contemporary Alfred Döblin described his monumental project ‘People of the 20th Century’ as a work of social and cultural history told through the medium of photography. Adopting a methodological approach, Sander divided over five hundred photographs into seven groups intended to represent the social classes and types of modern German society. This portrait of the German-American composer and conductor Hermann Hans Wetzler (1870–1943) is classified in the portfolio ‘The Composer’, from the fifth group entitled ‘The Artists’. Wetzler lived in Cologne during 1923–9; Sandler took the photograph during the early years of his stay. The clear lines of Wetzler’s clothes and facial features and the detailed texture of his skin, hair and garments are characteristic of Sander’s documentary approach to photography. Appearing neutrally analytical rather than narrative or expressive, Sander’s portraits neither idealise nor denigrate their subjects, presenting them as objectively as possible.

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  • title: Composer [Hermann Hans Wetzler], 1920-5
  • accession number: AL00093
  • artist: August SanderGerman (1874 - 1964)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Photograph
  • medium: Embossed paper in frame
  • date created: 1920 - 1925
  • measurements: 24.60 x 18.60 cm (paper 43.80 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.