August Sander

Studien - Der Mensch [Hands of a touring Actor], c.1929 (about 1929)

About this artwork

August Sander’s photo-books clearly illustrate photography’s alliance with modern sociology in the early twentieth century. At a time when sociologists were beginning to construct universal social ‘types’ by analysing social data, the technical means of photography promised the visual representation of such types in series of images. The photographic series was recognized as a method that made it possible to reveal the general characteristics of a particular social or professional class by juxtaposing a large number of images of people and their faces. Underlying this approach is a modern discourse proposing the existence of collective physiognomic traits that mark the individual representatives of a class or trade. This photograph, which derives from a book of hand studies that Sander compiled in 1944, shows how the interest in identifying and documenting social groups and types photographically often focused on specific body parts and gestural expressions.

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  • title: Studien - Der Mensch [Hands of a touring Actor], c.1929
  • accession number: AL00172
  • artist: August SanderGerman (1874 - 1964)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Photograph
  • medium: Embossed paper in frame
  • date created: about 1929
  • measurements: 23.00 x 17.10 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.