August Sander and the other artists of the “New Objectivity” movement are currently exhibited at the Centrer Pompidou.
The sulphurous era of the 1920s
A major exhibition highlights the sulphurous era of the 1920s, which saw the emergence of the “new objectivity” movement across Germany. This exhibition on the art and culture of the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) in Germany is the first overview of this artistic current in France. In addition to painting and photography, the project brings together architecture, design, film, theatre, literature and music. In a complex and rhythmic dialogue, It weaves links between painting, drawing, photography, architecture, design, film, theater, literature, bringing Sander’s typology of social groups into dialogue with all the arts of an era.
A look at German history
Multidisciplinary, the exhibition is structured in eight thematic sections, matched with the socio-cultural groups and categories created by August Sander. From the little gypsy to the pastry chef, the whole society parades in front of August Sander’s lens. His style ? Documentary, namely archetypal portraits, taken according to the same protocol, highlighting not the interiority, but the external signs of the subjects photographed, clothing or posture. A look at German history, in the context of a contemporary Europe of populist movements and divergent societies in the midst of the digital revolution, which invites us to observe political resonances and media analogies between the situations of yesterday and today. today.
An image of his time
Born in 1876, August Sander sought throughout his life to convey an image of his time, faithful to reality, through photography. He fell in love with the medium at a very young age and bought his first camera at the age of 16. First employed in a photo studio, he quickly established himself as a professional photographer in Cologne and earned his living as a portrait painter. At the beginning of the 1920s, he made friends with cultural circles in Cologne. Musicians, writers, architects and actors pose for the photographer who begins to work on the project of his life, Hommes du XXème siècle (published in its entirety in 1980). Sander’s objective look at reality was enthusiastically welcomed when Antlitz der Zeit (Faces of an Era) was published in 1929. This collection of portraits was intended to establish a sort of sociological inventory of types human beings, social classes and professions, avoiding idealizing clichés. After the war, Sander devoted himself to the organization of his archives and in particular to the constitution of a vast ensemble on Cologne, before the destruction of the city during the war: Köln wie es war (Cologne as it was). The city will buy it in 1953. In 1951, his work was shown at the Photokina in Cologne, it was part of the famous Family of Man exhibition organized by Steichen at the MoMA in New York in 1955, but his first major solo exhibition outside Germany was held at MoMA in New York in 1969, after his death.