August Sander

Gypsies, c. 1930 (about 1930)

About this artwork

August Sander took a systematic approach in compiling his ambitious documentary project ‘People of the 20th Century’, which was based on a quasi-sociological analysis of modern Germany. He divided his photographs into seven groups representing the social divisions and classes of the day: ‘The Farmer’, ‘The Skilled Tradesman’, ‘The Woman’, ‘Classes and Professions’, ‘The Artists,’ ‘The City’ and ‘The Last People’. This portrait is from the portfolio entitled ‘Travelling People – Gypsies and Transients’, which depicts people living on the fringes of urban life within the group, ‘The City’. It shows two gypsies photographed in a studio in front of a neutral white background. Countering prejudiced perceptions of gypsies as uncultured and wild, the two men are portrayed in a manner that expresses a sense of elegance and sophistication. Although their jackets are somewhat crumpled and their hair unfashionably long and tousled, the gypsies evoke exotic artistic bohemianism rather than social down-and-outs.

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  • title: Gypsies, c. 1930
  • accession number: AL00155
  • artist: August SanderGerman (1874 - 1964)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Photograph
  • medium: Embossed paper in frame
  • date created: about 1930
  • measurements: 26.00 x 17.80 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.