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Incidents (excerpt), by Igor and Svetlana Kopystiansky


[Advertisement, Osram Company: Spiral of Light Bulbs]

August Sander (German, 1876–1964)

ca. 1930
Gelatin silver print
29.5 x 22.9 cm (11 5/8 x 9 in.)
Credit Line:
Ford Motor Company Collection, Gift of Ford Motor Company and John C. Waddell, 1987
Accession Number:
Rights and Reproduction:
© 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
  • Description

    August Sander is best known as the great chronicler of German society between the wars--industrialists and workers, aristocrats and beggars, merchants, artists, and the Nazis who brought an end to his project in 1933. At first glance an elegant and arrestingly modern abstraction typical of the period, Sander’s photograph is actually an advertisement for the Osram company, a light bulb manufacturer which commissioned many leading artists for its campaigns.
    Photographers in Germany at this time used surprising visual perspectives (bird’s eye views, microscopic details, stop-motion) to assign new roles to the spectator, as airborne traveller, consumer, critic, or scientist. Moreover, photographs of every different stripe--from the worlds of industry, advertising, art, and journalism—were regularly shown side by side in large exhibitions, brought together as exemplars of good pictorial design. This hypnotic image is an excellent example of the way in which the shock and pleasure of modernist aesthetics, of looking for its own sake, could be seamlessly linked to the pleasure of consumption.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Embossed stamp on print, recto LL: "AUG. SANDER // KöLN // LINDENTHAL";

  • Provenance

    [Sander Gallery to Waddell, April 11, 1982]; John C. Waddell

  • See also