Werkstudenten by August Sander

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2015-06-26 10:35:12

Werkstudenten is a photograph by the celebrated German photographer August Sander in 1926.

About the photograph

The photograph depicts Sander’s son Erich posed alongside his friends Richard Kreutzberg, Hans Schoemann and Georg Hansen, all of whom were members of the Communist Party and dedicated political radicals.

The image was produced as part of a series of portraits documenting members of German society entitled ‘People of the 20th Century’, 60 of which were reproduced in the photographer’s now-influential book ‘Face of Our Time’ in 1929.

Both his work and his political ideals brought him to the attention of the Nazi party, and in 1934 his son Erich was arrested and sentenced to 10 years in prison (where he died in 1944).

 

The other three men captured in the portrait saw similar trouobles for their political beliefs: Richard Kreutzberg committed suicide in 1933, Hans Schoemann was engaged in the underground resistance during the war and Georg Hansen was imprisoned in London in 1932 after being charged with spying for the U.S.S.R.

In 1936 the Nazis confiscated the remaining copies of ‘Face of Our Time’ and had them destroyed along with the original halftone printing plates. Sander himself took his negatives and escaped Cologne in 1942 by relocating to a rural area. Two years later his studio was destroyed during a bombing mission.

Notable sales

In April 2008 an early print of the photograph, created by Sander himself, was sold at a Sotheby’s auction in New York for a price of $493,000 making it one of the most expensive photographs ever sold.

The print maintained markings and characteristics which suggested it was the print used during the first-edition run of ‘Face of Our Time’ in 1929.

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