August Sander

Studien - Der Mensch [Hands of a Tenor, c.1928] (about 1928)

About this artwork

The photographic series was a method that was central to Sander’s form of social documentary. In his photo-books, pictures of individuals and groups of people were presented not as isolated images but as elements in a series. Sander’s intention was to reveal the general physiognomic characteristics of a particular social class or professional type by juxtaposing a large number of images of their representatives. This photograph is from a book of hand studies that Sander compiled in 1944. His choice of focusing on a study of hands indicates his belief that they may reveal a great deal about the social status or trade of a person. With its long, narrow fingers, its well-manicured nails and its sensitive gesture recalling a figure in an old master painting, the delicate hand shown in this photograph evokes artistic expression, an impression that is confirmed by its identifying title, ‘Hand of a Tenor’.

see media
  • title: Studien - Der Mensch [Hands of a Tenor, c.1928]
  • accession number: AL00174
  • artist: August SanderGerman (1874 - 1964)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Photograph
  • medium: Embossed paper in frame
  • date created: about 1928
  • measurements: 20.60 x 15.50 cm (paper 44.00 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.