8499 - Hauser & Wirth to represent the Estate of August Sander


August Sander, Siebengebirge im Winter. Vintage gelatin silver print, 20.8 x 17.4 cm. © Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur – August Sander Archiv, Cologne; ARS, New York. Courtesy of Galerie Julian Sander, Cologne and Hauser & Wirth.
Hauser & Wirth announced its worldwide representation of the Estate of August Sander in collaboration with the artist’s great grandson Julian Sander of Galerie Julian Sander, Cologne. August Sander’s encyclopedic magnum opus, ‘People of the 20th Century,’ constitutes one of the most monumental endeavors in photographic history. Over the course of a career spanning six decades and tens of thousands of negatives, Sander created a nuanced sociological portrait of Germany comprising images of its populace, as well as its urban settings and dramatic landscapes. Working in a conceptually rigorous fashion, he pioneered a precise, unembellished photographic aesthetic that was formative to the establishment of the medium’s independence from painting and presaged conceptual art. Sander’s oeuvre has served as a wellspring of inspiration for modern and contemporary photographers, from Walker Evans and Diane Arbus, to Tina Barney, Rineke Dijkstra, and Bernd and Hilla Becher, and has exerted a profound influence upon new generations of visual artists across mediums.

A significant selection of photographs from Sanders’ portfolio ‘People Who Came to My Door’ forms the heart of the gallery’s group exhibition ‘Serialities,’ on view in New York from 18 February through 8 April 2017.

‘We are honored and delighted to join Julian Sander in assuming the mantle as guardians of August Sander’s illustrious legacy,’ remarked Iwan Wirth, Co-Founder and Co-President, Hauser & Wirth. ‘A decade ago, when our gallery presented the exhibition ‘Someone Else With My Fingerprints,’ it became crystal clear that Sander was not only a giant of the photographic medium, but one of the most revolutionary artists of the 20th century. His visionary approach to documenting people and places challenged accepted notions of what we are and how we live. He broadened perception. And his contributions continue to shape the way artists – including many represented by our own gallery – seek to interpret our world today.’

August Sander titled his larger effort to systematically document contemporary German society ‘People of the 20th Century,’ a project that Sarah Meister, Curator in the Department of Photography of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, has deemed, ‘the single most important body of work of the 20th century.’ Sander created portraits – or, to his mind, enabled self-portraits – of a broad cross-section of German society and categorized these portraits into archetypes: the Farmer, the Skilled Tradesman, the Woman, Classes and Professions, the Artists, the City, and the Last People, which portrayed individuals on the margins of society. His approach afforded all subjects equal dignity throughout this act of cataloguing, depicting them in a clear frontal style with extraordinary detail, their eyes boring into the camera lens and thus into the eyes and mind of the viewer.

This sober documentary aesthetic stood in stark contrast to the dominant photographic style of the day, which mimicked other art forms like painting, and to the work of Sander’s avant-garde peers in the ‘New Objectivity’ movement, who were similarly concerned with social commentary but photographed from extreme perspectives. Portraiture was August Sander’s lifelong love, and he would work on ‘People of the 20th Century’ from the early 1920s until his death, producing the bulk of the photographs during the years of the Weimar Republic. Sander also actively photographed the German streets, architecture, and landscape; the latter category dominated his practice during World War II in part because the subject matter was more acceptable to the Nazis, who con scated and destroyed his book of portraits entitled ‘Face of Our Time.’ The moral terrain into which Sander boldly forayed, exploring who can be represented and how, remains an important area of inquiry for visual art today, perhaps more timely than ever.

August Sander was born in Herdorf, a mining town east of Cologne, in 1876. While working at a local slagheap he serendipitously encountered a visiting landscape photographer. ‘My rst camera was for me the same magic box that it is for anybody coming to one for the rst time,’ Sander said. He purchased photographic equipment with nancial aid from his uncle. During his subsequent military service and in the years that followed, Sander served as an itinerant photographer’s assistant. In 1910, after working his way to being the sole proprietor of a photo studio in Linz, Sander moved to Cologne and opened a studio at 201 Dürener Strasse, where the majority of his portraits would be taken.

In the early 1920s, Sander befriended the Group of Progressive Artists in Cologne, a left-wing artist’s group spearheaded by Heinrich Hoerle and Franz Wilhelm Seiwert. It was around this time that Sander formalized the concept for his major project ‘People of the 20th Century,’ an effort to systematically document contemporary German society. He introduced the public to this project with an exhibition of approximately 100 portraits at the Kölnischer Kunstverein, which was followed by the publication of his rst book, ‘Face of Our Time,’ in 1929. ‘Face of Our Time’ included a selection of 60 portraits from ‘People of the 20th Century,’ which occupied Sander from the early 1920s until his death. The Nazi party, which had recently come to power, confiscated and destroyed Sander’s ‘Face of Our Time’ in 1936, likely because of the publication’s representation of marginalized groups and a heterogeneous German society. Around 1942, Sander left Cologne and moved to a small village in Westerwald. His studio in Cologne was destroyed in a 1944 bombing raid, but the negatives that he relocated to Westerwald – and by 1945 he had over 40,000 – survived. Unfortunately, only 11,000 of his 40,000 negatives made it to the Westerwald. Sander’s work was exhibited at the Photokina in Cologne in 1952 and included in Edward Steichen’s famous exhibition ‘The Family of Man’ at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in 1955. In 1964, just four years after the Federal Republic of Germany awarded Sander the Order of Merit, August Sander died in Cologne.

Gunther Sander (1907 – 1987), who served as his father’s apprentice in the studio from May 1925 to April 1928 and worked with him in his photographic studio until 1936, continued to promote the work of his father after his death. Gunther organized several exhibitions and publications, including ‘Men Without Masks’ (1971, Verlag C.J. Bucher, Lucerne, Switzerland and Frankfurt am Main, Germany.) In 1984, Sander’s estate passed into the hands of his grandson, Gerd Sander. Gerd founded the August Sander Archive to organize and protect the artist’s work. In January of 1993, the August Sander Archive was acquired by Kulturstiftung der Stadtsparkasse Köln. Julian Sander follows in the footsteps of his father Gerd as a gallerist, representing the work of August Sander.

Sander has been honored with major solo exhibitions and inclusion in important group shows and public collections. Recent solo exhibitions include: ‘August Sander: Menschen des 20. Jahrhunderts, People of the 20th Century’ at the 30th São Paulo Biennial, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 2012; ‘Artists Rooms: August Sander’, Tate Modern, London, England, 2010; ‘August Sander: People of the Twentieth Century’, The Getty Center, Los Angeles CA, 2008, and ‘August Sander: People of the Twentieth Century’ which traveled from the Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur, Cologne, Germany, 2001, to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco CA, 2002 – 2003, to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York NY, 2004. Sander is represented in the following museum collections: National Gallery of Victoria, Australia; National

Gallery of Canada, Ottowa; The National Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen; Bibliothèque nationale de France; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur – August Sander Archiv, Cologne; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne; Museum Folkwang, Essen; Sprengel Museum, Hannover; The Walther Collection, Ulm; Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Fotostiftung Schweiz, Winterthur; Tate Modern, London; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston MA; Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago IL; Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College, Chicago IL; Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge MA; Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland OH; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles CA; J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles CA; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York NY; The Museum of Modern Art, New York NY; ICP- International Center of Photography, New York NY; New York Public Library, New York NY; George Eastman House, Rochester NY; Philadelphia Museum of Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco CA; New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe CA; Seattle Art Museum, Seattle WA; Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee WI; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; and Centre Pompidou, Paris.