Augustus Sander (1876-1964) was a German Photographer known for his project “People of the 20th Century. In this project Sander categorised people into groups based on their trades or social standing.
Most of the work was photographed before the Second World War in the early part of the 20th Century but Sander continued to work on this project until his death in 1964. During the war this “unherioic” work was despised by the Nazi Party, this led to a blanket ban on such work and the destruction of 1,000 or so negatives. This loss was though nothing compared to the loss of Erich, his son, who died in 1943 after 10 years in prison as an anti-Nazi protester.
Sander influenced an entirely new generation of documentary practitioners. In particular Diane Arbus who I have always admired. Perhaps the last group on Sander’s list, ironically called the “Last People”, would have influenced Arbus in her work photographing the circus freaks, giants, dwarfs and of course trans-genders. The following examples are synonymous with Arbus’ work.
The “Last People” interests me the most too. Whilst the other categories are self-explanatory the “Last People” I believe was originally intended to be of old people, but then extended to a group of people that had no category – they too were the 'last' to be categorised. So last in years and 'last' as a defacto definition.
It was a fitting tribute that Erich would be recognised in this group too.