August Sander

Beggar, 1926 (1926)

About this artwork

From the mid-1920s until the end of his life August Sander photographed individuals and groups of people in his native Germany, classifying them according to their social status and professional occupation. The images that make up his monumental documentary project entitled ‘People of the 20th Century’ reflect Sander’s concern with the question of how art could communicate the social and political realities of modern society, including the problems of poverty and social inequality. This portrait of a beggar is from the portfolio entitled ‘Types and Figures of the City’, which depicts people on the fringes of society, within the project’s sixth group, ‘The City’. While addressing a politically-charged issue, the photograph also illustrates Sander’s supreme skill for composition. Placing his subject at the meeting point of vertical and horizontal lines, Sander has exploited the clear light on the beggar’s face to illuminate a spirit unbroken by a life of unimaginable hardship.

see media
  • title: Beggar, 1926
  • accession number: AL00107
  • artist: August SanderGerman (1874 - 1964)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Photograph
  • medium: Embossed paper in frame
  • date created: 1926
  • measurements: 20.00 x 25.50 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.