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A landmark in the history of photography, Citizens of the Twentieth Century completes August Sander's most important and sustained photographic enterprise, an archive of twentieth-century man. These emphatically objective photographs from the years of the Kaisers, the Weimar Republic, the Nazi regime, and the early Federal Republic make up an unprecedented document of both the individual and the collective recent history of the Germans.
Sander had intended to create a rank ordered portrait collection of the German people, an ambitious undertaking which remained incomplete at the time of his death. This reconstruction by Ulrich Keller, professor of art history at the University of California at Santa Barbara, in collaboration with Gunther Sander, the photographer's son, has been compiled from Sander's notes and negatives.
Keller's introductory essay discusses the development of Sander's photographic aesthetic, his studio practices, his notions of class structure, his technical virtuosity, and his approach to portraiture. The 431 photographs following Keller's text are presented in 45 portfolios each divided into seven sections on farmers, workers, women, occupations, artists, the big city, and the last people.