August Sander

Political Prisoner, 1943 (1943)

About this artwork

With his monumental photographic project ‘People of the 20th Century’ Sander attempted to document social worlds in radical transformation in his native Germany. Taking a methodological approach, he classified more than 500 photographs into seven groups representing the social structures and employment divisions of the time. Shortly after World War II, Sander turned to the difficult subject of the persecution and elimination of certain social classes and groups by the National Socialists. The portfolio entitled ‘Political Prisoners’, from the group ‘The City’, depicts men incarcerated in Siegburg Prison, where Sander’s son Erich was held because of his left-wing political sympathies. Assigned the task of taking photographs for documentation purposes, Erich managed to smuggle some of the pictures to his parents, asking them to pass them on to the families and friends of those depicted. Sander later used copies of these photographs for his portfolio.

see media
  • title: Political Prisoner, 1943
  • accession number: AL00114
  • artist: August SanderGerman (1874 - 1964)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Photograph
  • medium: Embossed paper in frame
  • date created: 1943
  • measurements: 25.80 x 18.70 cm (paper 43.90 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.