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The long life of German photographer August Sander (1876-1964) spanned one of the most turbulent eras in his country's history. The Great War of 1914-1918, the Weimar Republic, the reign of National Socialism, and the horrors of World War II all left an indelible imprint on both the man and his work. Sander, a conventional studio portraitist who transformed himself into an avant-gardist, exemplified the complex and sometimes contradictory nature of his time. He was at once innovative and deeply wedded to the past, blending a progressive vision with a traditional view of society and his craft.
The approximately fifty plates featured in In Focus: August Sander are some of the most striking from the Getty Museum's more than twelve hundred pictures by the artist. They include images of rural dwellers such as those found in Young Farmers and Farm Girls, and other portraits including Wife of the Cologne Painter Peter Abelen, Parliamentarianand the poignant Blind Children, Düren. A chronological overview of Sander's life provides a factual framework for this discussion.