August Sander

Self-Portrait, 1906 (1906)

About this artwork

This photographic self-portrait shows August Sander at the age of thirty. He is immaculately attired in a waistcoat, suit and bow tie, his warm woollen overcoat and wide-brimmed hat suggesting imminent travel. The camera’s soft focus on the background almost obscures the studio setting, where a light screen or wall has been painted in organic swirls that evoke foliage. The lighting directed from the left illuminates Sander’s facial features and the texture of his garments. Sander took a series of self-portraits while he lived and worked in Linz, before he moved to Cologne in 1909, probably in part to experiment with a variety of lighting and printing methods. The image is of particular interest in comparison with the picture taken of Sander by his son Gunter in 1956, and in considering the many formal bust portraits included in his monumental documentary project ‘People of the 20th Century’.

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  • title: Self-Portrait, 1906
  • accession number: AL00120
  • artist: August SanderGerman (1874 - 1964)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Photograph
  • subject: Self-portrait
  • medium: Embossed paper in frame
  • date created: 1906
  • measurements: 26.20 x 19.00 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.