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Cretin, about 1924
© Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur - August Sander Archiv, Köln/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn and DACS, London 2015

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Cretin, about 1924 about 1924

Not on display

  • Artist Rooms
August Sander’s monumental photographic project ‘People of the 20th Century’ comprises seven groups that represent the social structures and professions of his time. This photograph is from the seventh group, entitled ‘The Last People’, which depicts figures confined to the margins of society: the sick, the disabled, the old and the insane. Most of the pictures from this group were either taken in the Westerwald, as in this case, or in Sander’s Cologne studio. The image’s title, ‘Cretin’, is characteristic of the typological approach that Sander followed in his documentary project. The subjects of his portraits are usually not portrayed as individuals with specific qualities, but as representatives of certain social types. At the time that Sander took this picture, such terms as ‘cretin’ were descriptive rather than discriminatory, objectively conveying an individual’s social standing, rather than ridiculing him or her. Sander’s objective approach is also conveyed through his realistic style of photography.


  • Acc. No. AL00136
  • Medium Black and white photograph on paper
  • Size 25.90 x 18.50 cm (paper 43.90 x 34.00 cm; mount: 46.00 x 36.00 cm) (framed: 48.20 x 38.20 x 3.20 cm)
  • Credit ARTIST ROOMS National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. Lent by Anthony d'Offay 2010