Time - 100 Photographs - The Most Influential Images of All Time - USA (2019)

(Antfer) #1


BRICKLAYER by August Sander

There is a certain formulaic approach to August Sander’s
photography. But that was his aim. By presenting doctors,
farmers, chefs and beggars all with the same stark direct-
ness, the German-born Sander made everyone the every-
man. He set out to show that there is much to learn from
all layers of society, noting, “We can tell from appearance
the work someone does or does not do; we can read in his
face whether he is happy or troubled, for life unavoidably
leaves its trace there.” Sander’s most celebrated portrait,
of a bricklayer in Cologne, Germany, embodies that in-

sight. For while the laborer’s work entails toil and sweat,
he maintains a proud bearing. The classical framing, with
the lines of the bricks evoking the lines of the bricklayer’s
vest, reinforces the dignity of the subject. Which was no
small thing for a nation still reeling from the humiliation
of World War I. Sander gathered Bricklayer and his other
portraits in the monumental People of the 20th Century, the
first body of work to document a culture through photogra-
phy. Sander’s photographs celebrate the importance of the
individual, elevating portraiture of ordinary people to art.
Free download pdf