The August Sander Project: Beginning a Five-Year Exploration of Sander’s “People of the Twentieth Century”

August Sander - Young Farmers - 1926

It always takes a while for art historians to describe German photographer August Sander’s People of the Twentieth Century, which includes 619 pictures, is divided into 49 portfolios (for example, The Skilled Tradesman) that fit into seven groupings (The Skilled Tradesman is subdivided into five portfolios: The Master Craftsman; The Industrialist; The Worker — His Life and Work; Working Types — Physical and Intellectual; and The Technician and Inventor), and which took 62 years, from 1892 and 1954, to not-quite complete. That all makes Columbia University professor Noam Elcott’s distillation of one stunning aspect of Sander’s project into clarity all the more striking.

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