Antlitz der Zeit / “The Face of Our Time”. Reissue published by Schirmer Mosel, 2019. 4to hardcover with dustjacket. 246 pages, illustrated. With text in German. As new copy.
“Face of Time. 60 Photos of German People” was the first portrait collection published by August Sander (1876–1964). First published in 1929 by Kurt Wolff / Transmare Verlag in Munich, the book met with widespread media coverage, was discussed in the feature sections of the major daily newspapers, recommended in literary supplements and highly praised in specialist journals. Among the reviewers are names like Walter Benjamin, Kurt Tucholsky, Wilhelm Hausenstein, Sander’s painter friend Franz W. Seiwert, Luise Straus-Ernst and Walker Evans in the USA. “Face of the Times” was intended as a foresight on the far more comprehensive planned portrait project People of the 20th Century, which Sander systematically pursued in the 1920s despite a high workload as a professional photographer. The book’s success strengthened his artistic ambitions, which National Socialism brought to an abrupt end: “The Face of Time” fell victim to censorship – as did many of its prominent reviewers and most of the print media in which it was discussed.”
“Many of his classic images are included in this seminal photobook, and the essential qualities of Sander’s vision can be seen. He took typical examples of professions, trades and social classes in Weimar Germany, and photographed them in their familiar environments in order to build up, piece by piece, a dispassionate image of the ‘face’ of society… One of his work’s miracles is how, despite his nominal objectivity, his political view shines through… His work is not neutral. It is not just penetrating, but was seen as positively dangerous, a little too acute in its analysis of society and class, by those with certain vested interests. This is made clear by the fact that when the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, publisher’s copies of Antlitz der Zeit were seized, the plates destroyed, and the negatives confiscated by Hitler’s Ministry of Culture” (Parr and Badger, The Photobook)