August Sander

Studien - Der Mensch [Hands of a Painter (Jankel Adler) 1925] (1925)

About this artwork

August Sander’s photographs illustrate the alliance of photography with modern sociology in the early twentieth century. At a time when sociology was constructing universal social ‘types’ by analysing social data, the technical means of photography promised the visual representation of such types in series of carefully classified images. By juxtaposing large numbers of photographs of people and faces, it was believed that the typical characteristics of a certain social or professional class could be revealed. This photograph is from a series of hand studies that Sander compiled in 1944. The studies are enlargements of details from pictures taken mainly in the 1920s and 1930s. This is a detail of a portrait of the painter Jankel Adler from 1924, entitled ‘Painter [Jankel Adler]’. Adler’s long fingernails and the ornamental ring he is wearing suggest that these are the hands of a bohemian, rather than somebody who lives by manual labour.

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  • title: Studien - Der Mensch [Hands of a Painter (Jankel Adler) 1925]
  • accession number: AL00175
  • artist: August SanderGerman (1874 - 1964)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Photograph
  • medium: Embossed paper in frame
  • date created: 1925
  • measurements: 15.20 x 22.90 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.