August Sander

Showman with Performing Bear in Cologne, 1923 (1923)

About this artwork

City life was a significant focus of August Sander’s monumental photographic project ‘People of the 20th Century’. The portraits included in the project’s sixth group, ‘The City’, today provide invaluable historical documentation of the rapid urbanisation that Germany underwent in the early twentieth century. In his focus on urban life Sander aimed not only to capture social and political events and processes, but also representatives of certain city ‘types’. One type he was particularly interested in was the street musician and performer, a character who had been present in German society since before industrialisation. This photograph, from the portfolio ‘The Street and Street Life’ and classified in the group ‘The City’, shows a young man with his performing bear. The ‘showman’ and his bear are surrounded by a curious audience made up of children, youths and adults passing by on the cobbled streets of a middle-class neighbourhood.

see media
  • title: Showman with Performing Bear in Cologne, 1923
  • accession number: AL00153
  • artist: August SanderGerman (1874 - 1964)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Photograph
  • medium: Embossed paper in frame
  • date created: 1923
  • measurements: 25.70 x 20.60 cm (paper 43.90 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.