Although he is known primarily for his portraiture, Sander made landscape photographs throughout his career. Forced by the rise of National Socialism to forgo an ambitious project to document Germans of all walks of life, he began roaming the countryside near his home in Cologne, seeking escape from the encroaching political furor. Following the arrest of his son, a political activist, Sander looked even more intently to cycles of regeneration in nature, especially botany and geology, for consolation. He converted a cave into a wilderness retreat and devoted himself to gathering images for books on the various regions of Germany. In a 1931 lecture, Sander commented on the ability of photography to help make sense of one’s environment and circumstances: “We can see the human spirit of a particular age expressed in the landscape, and we can comprehend it with the camera.” The diffuse light that filters through his photographs of this period seems to foreshadow the impending storm of war.
Inscription: Blindstamp on print, recto LR: "AUG. SANDER // KöLN // LINDENTHAL"; inscribed in pencil on print, verso LL: "15"
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Johnson Gallery, Selections from the Collection 59," May 15, 2012–September 9, 2012.
Sander, August. August Sander: Photographs of an Epoch, 1904–59: Man of the Twentieth Century, Rhineland Landscapes, Nature Studies, Architectural and Industrial Photographs, Images of Sardinia. Millerton, N.Y.: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1980. p. 107.