Studien - Der Mensch [Hands of a touring Actor], about 1929
© Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur - August Sander Archiv, Köln/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn and DACS, London 2015

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Studien - Der Mensch [Hands of a touring Actor], about 1929 c 1929
  • Artist Rooms
August Sander’s photo-books clearly illustrate photography’s alliance with modern sociology in the early twentieth century. At a time when sociologists were beginning to construct universal social ‘types’ by analysing social data, the technical means of photography promised the visual representation of such types in series of images. The photographic series was recognized as a method that made it possible to reveal the general characteristics of a particular social or professional class by juxtaposing a large number of images of people and their faces. Underlying this approach is a modern discourse proposing the existence of collective physiognomic traits that mark the individual representatives of a class or trade. This photograph, which derives from a book of hand studies that Sander compiled in 1944, shows how the interest in identifying and documenting social groups and types photographically often focused on specific body parts and gestural expressions.


  • Acc. No. AL00172
  • Medium Black and white photograph on paper
  • Size 23.00 x 17.10 cm (paper 43.90 x 33.90 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