ARTIST ROOMS: August Sander

  • 12th February − 10th July 2011 | Modern Two (Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art) | Admission free

People of the 20th Century

Sander’s approach was highly methodical and based on an almost sociological analysis of Weimar Germany. He divided his portraits into seven main groups: The Farmer, The Skilled Tradesman, The Woman, Classes and Professions, The Artists, The City, and The Last People.

All through his portfolios of portraits, Sander aims to give a truthful picture of the age. Instead of concentrating on just one section of society, he shows the poorest to the wealthiest, the traditional country craftsmen and the city workers. He includes intellectuals, artists and scientists as well as people occupied in a wide range of trades and professions, and the unemployed. His sweep encompasses those who wear Nazi uniforms as well as the persecuted, plus those, such as his son Erich, who are in jail for their political beliefs. Sander also includes those who are disabled, ill and, in a few cases, those who have died.

Sander’s approach to his subjects was typological — people were often only listed by their profession, job or class. Names were usually excluded, even when the sitters were well-known figures in German society. Most subjects wear work clothes, often uniforms, and are occasionally depicted holding the tools of their trade.


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