This issue explores the political and ethical questions posed by the photographs of August Sander (1876–1964). Other topics include the landscape of the Anglo-Mysore Wars, Edward Burra’s bohemianism, the work of Akram Zaatari, learning and institutional critique, and Tate’s Digital Strategy.
In this issue
August Sander’s photobook Face of Our Time is discussed in relation to interest in physiognomy in Weimar Germany. Much of this book’s success was owed to the obsession of both left- and right-wing writers with the idea that modernity reduced individuality and facial expressiveness.
Countering the characterisation of August Sander’s work as politically neutral, Rose-Carol Washton Long argues that the ‘The Persecuted’ and ‘Political Prisoners’ portfolios from People of the Twentieth Century testify to the connections the photographer had with figures on the left during the interwar years and by extension to his own leftist values.
Dorothy C. Rowe sheds light on the role played by photographer August Sander among the group of artists known as the Cologne Progressives, showing how his portrait photographs, particularly those of the painters Anton Räderscheidt and Marta Hegemann, helped the artists present themselves as bohemians.
August Sander’s portraits of marginalised subjects are often evoked as visual shorthand for his inclusive vision of the German nation. This article uses a portrait he made around 1930 showing two circus workers, an ‘Indian’ man and a white woman, to assess how Sander’s work deals with the cognitive and ethical difficulties posed to interwar Germany by its ‘dark strangers’.
Examining August Sander’s Der Bauer group of photographs in relation to the historical representation of peasants in German art, Christian Weikop draws distinctions between Sander’s interest in peasant types and the ideological agendas of National Socialist proponents of racial purity.
This essay addresses institutional critique in relation to learning in the art museum. It aims to introduce an alternative approach to critique in which learning can better be discussed and contribute ideas to, and beyond, its field. It does so through the lens of ‘the refrain’, a concept developed by the philosophers Félix Guattari and Gilles Deleuze.
Examining landscape imagery produced after the third Anglo-Mysore War (1789–92), Rosie Dias argues that these works oscillated between memorialisation, personal experience and aesthetic detachment, modes of viewing that were indicative of the social and professional identities of military draughtsmen.
In this interview the Lebanese artist Akram Zaatari discusses his major works of the last fifteen years, addressing some of the crucial questions informing his approach to video, photography and the politics of documentary representation.
Paying close attention to Edward Burra’s letters, scrapbooks and other archival material, Andrew Stephenson reveals the impact that the cosmopolitan entertainment culture of the interwar years had on the work the artist produced in London, Paris, Marseilles, Toulon and Harlem.
Reports and strategies
Through the development of a holistic digital proposition there is an opportunity to use the digital to deliver Tate’s mission to promote public understanding and enjoyment of British, modern and contemporary art. To achieve this, digital will need to become a dimension of everything that Tate does.