Read the information that accompanied August Sander’s exhibition People of the 20th Century at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Core resources : ASander-SFMOMA.pdf
Write a 200-word reflective commentary on Sander’s seven -category system. Briefly discuss the implication within the socio-cultural context of the time. Make connections with contemporary practice such as that of Zed Nelson , if appropriate.
Between 1910 and 1934 Sander travelled across Germany with the aim of chronicling modern German society through posed portraits of a broad spectrum of its citizens.
Sander’s seven categories:
The Skilled Tradesman
Classes and Professions
The Last People.
Each of the seven categories included subjects with representative similarities. Within each category Sander’s egalitarian viewpoint becomes apparent , both the bricklayer and industrialists share the status of Skilled Tradesmen. The final group , The Last People included within its category the elderly, those with disabilities (physical and mental ) , the homeless , beggars etc , the most vulnerable section of society , this last group is especially poignant. Due to the rise of Hitler , the Third Reich and the political agenda of the Nazi Party the socially disadvantaged immortalised by Sander’s images were unlikely to survive. Sander himself was viewed with suspicion , his democratic view of what constituted German citizenship did not match that of the Nazis. Consequently his glass plates were destroyed , but luckily the negatives survived.
Zed Nelson’s project Disappearing Britain bears similarities to Sander’s People of the 20th Century and I like the straightforward portraits very much . Basic information accompanies the images , name , occupation , year , shot in B&W with the subject looking directly at the camera. Unlike People of the 20th Century Nelson’s subjects are not categorised into such wide-ranging social groups but simply by their occupation , Cornish Fisherman , Shipbuilders , Boxers , World War 2 Veterans, Yorkshire Miners , and Fox Hunters , trades fast becoming extinct.
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