AUGUST SANDER (1876-1964)
The wife of the architect Heinz Lüttgen, Cologne, c. 1928
gelatin silver print, mounted on board, printed before 1936
blindstamped photographer's credit (recto); annotated in pencil (mount, recto)
image: 834 x 658 in. (22.4 x 16.9 cm.)
sheet: 17 x 1338 in. (43.2 x 34 cm.)
Robert Miller Gallery, New York;
acquired from the above by the present owner.
Gunther Sander, August Sander: Citizens of the Twentieth Century, The Mit Press, London, 1986, p. 190.
Exhibition Catalog, August Sander, In Photography There Are No Unexplained Shadows, August Sander Archive, Van Soest, Amsterdam, 1994, p. 91.
Suzanne Lange, August Sander 1876 1926, Taschen, Cologne, 1999, p. 73.
August Sander, Homme du XXe siècle III, La femme, Éditions la Martinière, Paris, 2002, p. 129.
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Lot Essay

As part of his ambitious project to document citizens of the 20th century, August Sander focused on the artists, which he classified by types and professions. Writers, musicians, painters and architects, including Hans Heinz Lüttgen, all posed for him. The latter was portrayed with his wife Dora in 1926, then alone around 1929. At the same time, August Sander photographed Dora by herself, seated on a wooden table, in front of a wall with lozenge-shaped motifs, as illustrated in the present work.
It was most certainly these portraits of emerging artists that enabled Sander to have a specific idea regarding the people he immortalized. Indeed, he engaged in long discussions and active debates, focusing on the current events around the country, which had just lost the war. And it’s by exchanging with them that Sander understood the importance of his project, anchored in such a delicate political context. The photographs of his fellow-citizens had no decorative ambition; they were true testimonies, marked by their candour and their simplicity: “I never deform anyone,” he explained. Pure and transparent, his work was often compared to the burgeoning New Objectivity.
Sander observed calmly and recorded faces with imperturbable precision. He imposed no constraints and always adopted an impartial outlook, perceiving at the same time the singularity of his subjects and the universality of their nation. A universality filled with rigour and exactitude, attributes he retained from having worked in the mining industry and which were also found in the overwhelming presence of the Nazi dictatorship that marked the end of his career. Indeed, the Nazis did not approve of how he represented Germany, without glorifying the “master race”. His images were withdrawn from circulation, however, once peace had returned, Sander was able to reassemble this photographic work. Sander was then able to exert a greater influence on the course of history, inspiring the work of countless photographers into the next century, most notably that of Bernd & Hilla Becher.

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