August Sander

Studien - Der Mensch [Hands of the Writer L. Mather, c.1928] (about 1928)

About this artwork

August Sander’s social documentary photography was intimately intertwined with the physiognomic discourse that developed at the beginning of the twentieth century. His photo-books present large numbers of photographs of individuals and groups of people not as single images but as series from which it was hoped that the unifying physical characteristics of a particular social class or professional type would emerge. This photograph is from a series of hand studies that Sander compiled in 1944, when he was living in the rural Westerwald after relocating from Cologne during the war. All the studies are enlargements of details from portraits taken in the 1920s and 1930s, when Sander still had his studio in the Cologne district of Lindenthal. They show the hands of representatives of professional classes, ranging from manual labourers to businessmen and artists. Sander frequently added photographic reproductions of the subject’s handwriting to the studies.

see media
  • title: Studien - Der Mensch [Hands of the Writer L. Mather, c.1928]
  • accession number: AL00173
  • artist: August SanderGerman (1874 - 1964)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Photograph
  • medium: Embossed paper in frame
  • date created: about 1928
  • measurements: 20.10 x 17.40 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.