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August Sander’s Untypical ‘Typologies’



Although the early twentieth century German photographer August Sander is most certainly best known for his photographic typologies of ‘humankind’, it also became clear to me, on viewing his original prints, that they are not at all ‘cold’ physiological studies. The one aspect of Sander’s work I didn’t expect to discover was its adventurous nature.

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To me what makes these photographs so interesting is their experimentation. The visual language we see owes, and utilize far more of the expressionistic aesthetic of twentieth century modernist art than is commonly suggested. His work may act as a sociological human study, but I see references to surrealism and a cubist treatment of form, as well as the more documentary type photographs.

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With the exception of a few misplaced commercial studio works, which don’t seem to fit with the others in the series, and his images of nature, which clearly wasn’t his forte - on the whole the show is a worthwhile experience.

Husband and Wife

August Sander: People Of The Twentieth Century at the Dean Gallery in Edinburgh runs until 10th of July and it doesn’t cost a penny, so if you can, you must go and see it.


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