‘Photography is by nature a documentary art,’ Sander declared in 1931 during one of his radio lectures, voicing the artistic credo to which he remained faithful all his life. Sander owes his fame and status as a master of photography to the vast series of portraits begun at the very outset of his career. The German photographer’s portraits are full-face and typically quite uncompromising shots with carefully considered composition, where nothing is intended for effect or spectacle. Sander was able to capture the individuality and character traits of his subjects, while openly demonstrating that they belonged to a specific social group. Consequently his photographs are a representative slice of interwar German society and also a fascinating historical document, rather than merely a collection of portraits.
In the early 1920s August Sander spent much of his time with the artists of the German avant-garde and in particular Otto Dix, who became one of his closest friends. The money earned from commercial commissions allowed Sander to work in his spare time on a grandiose documentary project entitled ‘People of the 20th Century’, aimed at compiling a typology of contemporary Germans and devising a social portrait of his epoch. Subjects for these images were selected from his acquaintances and customers.
Since Sander could not conceive of humanity separately from the environment, he conducted an active study of fauna and worked on a topographical description of German territories in parallel to the portrait photography. In 1933 the photographer began producing thematic albums dedicated to various regions in Germany, including the Rhine valley. Although August Sander never achieved widespread recognition as a topographer, he can rightly be considered the forerunner of modern landscape and architectural photography.
Sander’s creative style, his methodical approach, objectivity and specific method of working on photographic series greatly influenced luminaries such as Walker Evans, Irving Penn, Diane Arbus, Robert Frank, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Thomas Ruff, Thomas Struth and Andreas Gursky.
This exhibition was conceived by the photographer’s grandson Gerd Sander and organised in collaboration with the Galerie Priska Pasquer (Cologne) and the Feroz Galerie (Bonn).
(c) Morten Barker
Feroz Galerie is very please to announce that Galleri Image is showing the project Absence of Subject with works by Feroz Gallery artists August Sander and Michael Somoroff.
Galleri Image, Scandinavia´s oldest exhibition space for fine-art photography, presents this unique conceptual homage from one artist to another. This original exhibition by American photographer Michael Somoroff is a visual conversation with the legendary German photographer August Sander (1876-1964).
In 2003, Somoroff visited an August Sander exhibition, Menschen des 20th Jahrhunderts (People of the 20thcentury), at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. This unique body of work is a large series of meticu-lously composed portraits; demonstrating Sander’s understanding of the hierarchical order of German society with a presentation of his subjects not only as individuals but also as typologies.
Somoroff selected 40 images from Sander’s work; he then successfully removed the sitter with the assistance of computer technology, leaving only a clean background. The pictures retain the subtle suggestions of human habitation with tea services, open books, and pulled out chairs patiently waiting. The works appear as though the subject has just stepped outside the range of view. This sense of mystery is intensified through the display of empty landscapes, shops, and houses — all without occupants. These new images created by Somoroff em-phasize the persuasive power and aesthetic qualities available in the oeuvre of August Sander, even without the key element of mankind.
This unusual collaboration between Michael Somoroff and August Sander are works of photographic art and conceptual masterpieces, offering a ground breaking new definition of portrait photography. The exhibition includes platinum-palladium prints and videos by Michael Somoroff and August Sander silver prints.
I am very proud and honored to announce that the Feroz Gallery is participating in the 30th Sao Paulo Biennale with the work of my great grandfather August Sander. This is a very special occasion as it will bring this body of work to South America through this fantastic foundation.
We will be showing the full body of People of the 20th Century, August Sander’s monumental study of humanity through his portraits of the german people between 1892 and 1954. August Sander’s work has influenced generations of both photographers and other artists. As such it has moved into the repetoire of the modern visual landscape. I am very excited to have the opportunity to bring this important work to Brasil and feel that it will work very well with the theme of this year’s Biennale “The Imminence of Poetics.”
It is with the support of the curatorial team of the Biennale that I am able to do this, and as such I owe a great deal of thanks to Luis Perez-Oramas for embracing and supporting this project. I am also deeply grateful to Peter Galassi for championing this project and making the introductions that have proven key to this projects fruition. And last but not least I must thank my father for spending a lifetime working with August Sander’s pictures. Without his insight, understanding and dilligence this project would never have been possible.
The Biennale in Sao Paulo is from September 7 – December 9, 2012.
NEW YORK, February 10, 2012: Pace/MacGill Gallery is pleased to present August Sander/Boris Mikhailov: German Portraits, on view March 22 through May 5, 2012. The exhibition juxtaposes 20 20th-century portraits by German cultural documentarian August Sander with 10 photographs from Boris Mikhailov’s German Portraits series (2008) to examine how two seminal photographers approached the subject of portraiture in Germany, nearly a century apart. An opening reception will be held at the gallery on Thursday, March 22 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Citizens of the Twentieth Century
APRIL 5 – MAY 26, 2012
Edwynn Houk Gallery is pleased to announce our representation of the August Sander family collection. In celebration, the gallery is presenting a retrospective look at Sander’s career from the series “Citizens of the Twentieth Century.”