Monday, 17 September 2012


During our first lecture we discussed a number of photographers to focus – Fox Talbot; Eugène Atget; George Brassaï and those born in the 20Th century such as August Sander; Henri Cartier-Bresson; (A personal favourite and influence) and Robert Doisneau are of course those photographers who were a new breed of artist who documented the lives of those people who inhabited America, Britain, France and areas of interest, particularly those who were in a current state of conflict or undergoing radical change.

Certainly in the early part of the nineteenth century, the whole known world was experiencing a revolution of some sorts, indeed the ‘Paris Commune’ as it is known or Fourth French Revolution was considered to be an early important form of Photojournalism.

Most notably photographer Auguste Bruno Braquehais photographed the participants and the toppling

of the Vendôme Column. Braquehais was born in Dieppe, Seine-Maritime, in 1823. Deaf from a young age, he attended the Institut royal des sourds et muets (Royal Institute of the Deaf and Mute) in Paris. He worked as a lithographer in Caen until 1850, when he met photographer Alexis Gouin (ca. 1790s–1855), and moved to Paris to work in Gouin's studio. Gouin specialized in colored daguerreotypes (French: daguerréotype) was the first commercially successful photographic process. (They were colored by his stepdaughter, Laure) and stereoscopic plates.

Fast forward and nothing much has changed certainly the images of the tyrannical Saddam Hussein statue being toppled in April 2003 echo those events in revolutionary France. Throughout human history we have had a fascination of documenting our lives in some form or other, the earliest being the cave paintings of prehistoric origin in El Castillo cave in Cantabria, Spain.


August Sander

Sander was born in Herdorf, the son of a carpenter working in the mining industry. While working at a local mine, Sander first learned about photography by assisting a photographer who was working for a mining company. With financial support from his uncle, he bought photographic equipment and set up his own darkroom.

Sander has been described as the most important German portrait photographer of the early twentieth century; his first book “Face of our Time” (Antlitz der Zeit)was published in 1929. It contained a selection of sixty portraits from his series People of the 20Th Century.

Unfortunately for Sander under the Nazi regime, his work and personal life were greatly constrained. Sander's book Face of our Time was seized in 1936 and the photographic plates destroyed. Around 1942, during World War II, he left Cologne and moved to a rural area, allowing him to save most of his negatives. His studio was destroyed in a 1944 bombing raid. Sander died in Cologne in 1964.

His work includes landscape, nature, architecture, and street photography, but he is best known for his portraits, as exemplified by his series People of the 20th Century. In this series, he aims to show a cross-section of society during the Weimar Republic. The series is divided into seven sections: The Farmer, The Skilled Tradesman, Woman, Classes and Professions, The Artists, The City, and The Last People (homeless persons, veterans, etc.). By 1945, Sander's archive included over 40,000 images.
In 2002, the August Sander Archive and scholar Susanne Lange published a seven-volume collection comprising some 650 of Sander's photographs, August Sander: People of the 20th Century. In 2008, the Mercury crater Sander was named after him