August Sander. Farmer on his Way to Church. 1925-26 - Francesco Neri. Elvira, Fognano, 2022


60th Anniversary of the death of August Sander

20th April 2024

The Italian artist Francesco Neri honors August Sander with a donation to the Photographic Collection/SK Stiftung Kultur

On the 20th August Sander died in April 1964, who is highly valued for his photographs, especially his portrait work. The Italian artist Francesco Neri, who received the first August Sander Prize six years ago, has now on the occasion of the 60th On the anniversary of the death of August Sander, a gift of eight of his most recent portrait photographs was presented to the Photographic Collection.

They show elderly people from the rural milieu of northern Italy in their everyday life, attentive and close to life. It is hard to believe that there are around 100 years between the shots of August Sander, for whom the rural-pearnt environment was an important reference, and those of Francesco Neri, in comparison with some portraits. In addition to the observation of generally connecting basic features, time-typical, different moments can also be discovered on closer inspection. What needs does man have, what life experiences and what influences are formative? “Seeing, observing, thinking” was the motto of August Sander, which apparently carries up to the present.

At the age of 87, August Sander had died 60 years ago from the consequences of a stroke in the St. Anna Hospital in Cologne-Lindenthal, not far from his photo workshop in Dürener Straße 201, which was operated until the early 1940s. He was buried in the Melaten cemetery and letters of condolence preserved in his archive testify to great sympathy, among others, from the mayors of the city of Cologne and the city of Herdorf, his birthplace, where he was appointed honorary citizen in 1958. Konrad Adenauer also expressed his sympathy as well as Gerhard Schröder, Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs and President of the German Society for Photography, whose founding members included August Sander. Personalities from the culture and private environment sent letters to Gunther Sander, the son who was to take over Sanders’s estate. After his death in 1987, the heir took over grandson Gerd Sander, who preserved the estate of his grandfather until 1992 the Cultural Foundation of the Stadtsparkasse Köln (today SK Stiftung Kultur) acquired the holdings.

This was intended to lay the foundation stone for an institution at Sanders’s place of effect Cologne that devotes itself to factual-documentary photography over time and internationally and thus further appreciates the work of August Sander through exhibitions, publications and corresponding research work. Convinced of this idea was above all the artist couple Bernd and Hilla Becher, who appreciated Sanders’s photographic concept, his objectively precise look and his sense of the typical as exemplary for their own work.

This is how the Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur was created, based in Cologne’s Mediapark, which highlights artistic positions in its program, which deal with diverse topics between portrait, industry, landscape, architecture and nature in its series of works. This is now also evidenced by a grown collection, in which the August Sander Archive is an important reference point.

A sign of the timeless topicality of Sander’s work is the August Sander Prize, which has been awarded since 2018 at intervals of two years to photographers up to the age of 40 who have made a contribution to portrait photography. The applications repeatedly show how sustainably August Sander’s work is shaping worldwide.


Die Photographische Sammlung