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August Sander

Sander, August (ouˈgŏst zänˈdər) [key], 1876–1964, Austrian photographer. During his long life Sander made a remarkable composite portrait of the German people. He began his immense work in the early 1890s, making pictures of young men who wanted mementos to give to their families before they emigrated to the United States. He opened a portrait studio in Linz (1904), but a great percentage of his precise, direct, and perceptive portraits were made in the homes and working environments of his sitters. Using large glass plates, he produced a realistic picture of the daily life and look of a vast cross-section of German society that, as a whole, is considered both a sociological and a photographic masterpiece. His subjects included country people, artisans, laborers, technicians, artists, professionals, politicians, aristocrats, and family groups of every sort, the total work comprising an extraordinary human document in which the photographer himself is particularly unobtrusive. Sander also wrote a treatise on the function of photography, Confession of Faith in Photography (1927).

See his Men without Masks: Faces of Germany, 1910–1938 (tr. 1973); G. Sander and U. Keller, ed., August Sander: Citizens of the 20th Century (1986); C. Schreier, August Sander: "In Photography There Are No Unexplained Shadows" (1997); S. Lange and M. Heiting, ed., August Sander: 1876–1964 (1999); S. Lange and G. Conrath-Scholl, August Sander: People of the 20th Century (7 vol., 2002).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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