Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1999/11/24

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Subject: Re: [Leica] Great environmental portraitists
From: Mike Johnston <>
Date: Wed, 24 Nov 1999 12:41:02 +0000

>>>>Interesting post.  But one question:

> I confined my searching
> to people who were primarily Leica photographers (legitimately, now!),

> to avoid offending the more delicate sensibilities here. This of
> leaves to one side the very greatest master of the genre, but you all
> know who he is.

Actually, no, I don't know who you're referring to.  Pray, do tell.<<<<

August Sander, whose epic project "The Face of Germany" is certainly the
most ambitious and best "environmental portrait" project ever attempted
or realized. There is really no book that adequately shows the truly
marvelous print quality he got (I've had the privilege of seeing
hundreds of original prints), but his portraits are astonishing and
astonishingly consistent--worth returning to again and again. Taken as a
whole, his work was truly one of the great masterpieces of photography,
even if his ambition was, in the end, impossible to achieve.

There is a good new (1999) book put out by Taschen, but the classic, and
the book that fairly represents the sweep of his vision, is of course
the massive _August Sander: Citizens of the Twentieth Century: Portrait
Photographs, 1892-1952_ by Gunther Sander (Editor), Ulrich Keller
(Editor), Linda Keller (Translator), MIT Press, 1986. Unfortunately the
reproduction is only adequate (I haven't seen the new book). A relative
bargain at $75 and a book that deserves consideration for a place in
even the most, um, "concentrated" library of great photography.

He did not, of course, use a Leica, although if he as much as owned one
in his dotage--or handled one in a store--I'm sure he can be claimed as
a "great Leica photographer" by somebody. <gg>

- --Mike