August Sander

Studien - Der Mensch [Hands of a Photographer (Gunther Sander)], 1944 (1944)

About this artwork

The photo-books that August Sander produced as part of his monumental documentary project ‘People of the 20th Century’ represent an attempt to portray the general physiognomic characteristics of certain social and professional classes. By arranging his photographs of individuals and groups of people in series, he aimed to identify and define what was typical about their appearances. This photograph is from a series of hand studies that Sander compiled in 1944. The studies are enlargements of details from pictures he had taken mainly during the 1920s and 1930s. Rather than emphasising their shared physical traits, the series focuses on variations between the hands portrayed which belong to different professional types, ranging from manual labourers to businessmen and artists. The hands shown in this picture belong to Sander’s younger son Gunther (1907–87), who followed in his father’s footsteps as a professional photographer.

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  • title: Studien - Der Mensch [Hands of a Photographer (Gunther Sander)], 1944
  • accession number: AL00176
  • artist: August SanderGerman (1874 - 1964)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Photograph
  • medium: Embossed paper in frame
  • date created: 1944
  • measurements: 17.30 x 22.90 cm (paper 43.80 x 34.00 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.