Töpfermeister aus Frechen (Master Potter from Frechen)

Photo: Susan Cole

Töpfermeister aus Frechen (Master Potter from Frechen)


August Sander

German, 1876-1964

Töpfermeister, 1934, is part of a large series of photographs titled People of the Twentieth Century. August Sander's monumental photographic project is a powerful document that spans half a century and captures a concrete period of turbulent German history, from the Weimar years to Hitler's rise to power. The book is divided into seven sections: The Farmer, The Skilled Tradesman, The Woman, Classes and Professions, The Artists, The City, and The Last People. Sander intended to create a visual encyclopedia of German "types" that showed the country's growing human diversity, in the tradition of French eighteenth-century verbal encyclopedias compiled by Denis Diderot and Jean Le Rond d'Alembert. In 1936, the Nazi authorities confiscated Sander's first publication "Face of Our Time" and destroyed the printing plates because the images did not match the Aryan ideal. Töpfermeister is representative of Sander's uncompromising, direct and candid approach to photographic portraiture.
Bromide print (tipped on period mount)
11 1/4 x 8 1/2 in. (28.5 x 21.6 cm)
Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection
Photo: Susan Cole
Not currently on view

We know that people are formed by the light and air, by their inherited traits, and their actions [...]. We can tell from appearance the work someone does or does not do [...].

August Sander, The Nature & Growth of Photography

Contemporary German Photography

German post-war photography has been strongly shaped by Bernd and Hilla Becher, who have been working since the 1960s and also teaching in Düsseldorf. Their students include Thomas Ruff, Thomas Struth, Candida Höfer and Andreas Gursky, all of whom have connected photography with mass media, landscape development and architecture. These photographers work in the tradition of Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) whether photographing buildings or industrial sites, exploring the relationship between private and public space, or making portraits of anonymous individuals that, like Sander's, deliver grave emotions and objectivity. Their work displays the social, economic and cultural developments that have taken place in Germany since the end of World War II, both in its landscape and its people.
Untitled X (Constable), 1999, Andreas Gursky, 2000.45
Photo: Susan Cole


Michael Darling, Former Jon & Mary Shirley Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seattle Art Museum, discusses the work of photographer August Sander


Exhibition HistorySeattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, 200 Photographs from the Museum Collection, Dec. 8, 1983 - Feb. 5, 1984. Text by Rod Slemmons. No cat. no.

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