August Sander, one of the most revered early 20th century German photographers, stands as the ancestor of the Bechers and the other taxonomists (those who use photography to document, classify and sort). Sander’s subject was people. He hoped, by photographing people engaged in each profession, to create do a comprehensive portrait of the German people which he eventually called “People of the Twentieth Century.” His feeling was that by studying that collection of those images, we would learn to better understand humanity. The farmers seen here, “whose way of life I had known from my youth,” wrote Sander, “appealed to me because of their closeness to nature.” On their way to a dance, they wear formal clothes that mirror not their daily lives but instead their aspirations, which they wear awkwardly at best.
blind stamp recto, stamp on verso.