August Sander Young Girl in Circus Caravan 1926

  • Not on view

Sander approached his subjects with a mixture of sensitivity and sociological objectivity. The precise nature of this endeavor is evident in Young Girl in Circus Caravan: bounded by the geometric order of the picture frame and the caravan window alike, the girl is poised at the threshold between a dark interior and the illuminated world at large—a dynamic suggestive of the camera’s mechanism of rendering an image through light. A melancholic air suffuses the photograph; the child stares back at the photographer (and thus the viewer) as though appraising him in her own right. Her fingers pinch a door key—perhaps she is coming out into the light.

Sander began his career as a studio portrait photographer for hire. That he ended up photo­graphing circus workers, Romany people, and others on society’s margins is indicative of his wide-ranging, itinerant gaze. Yet he was also systematic and an astute observer of the forces shaping history. This portrait went on to find a place in Sander’s audaciously ambitious magnum opus, an attempt to capture modern Germany in a photographic atlas of social types titled People of the Twentieth Century. Sander’s exacting documentary style made him an inspiration to photographers following in his wake. Likewise, his survey has provided an ongoing model for artists seeking to create conceptual artworks that share his archival sensibility.

Publication excerpt from MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2019)
Medium
Gelatin silver print
Dimensions
11 × 8 1/16" (27.9 × 20.4 cm)
Credit
Gift of the artist
Object number
392.1953
Copyright
© 2020 Die Photographische Sammlung / SK Stiftung Kultur - August Sander Archiv, Cologne / ARS, NY
Department
Photography

Installation views

How we identified these works

In 2018–19, MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos. That project has concluded, and works are now being identified by MoMA staff.

If you notice an error, please contact us at digital@moma.org.

Licensing

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

All requests to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA should be addressed to Scala Archives at firenze@scalarchives.com. Motion picture film stills or motion picture footage from films in MoMA’s Film Collection cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For licensing motion picture film footage it is advised to apply directly to the copyright holders. For access to motion picture film stills please contact the Film Study Center. More information is also available about the film collection and the Circulating Film and Video Library.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication or moma.org, please email text_permissions@moma.org. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to archives@moma.org.

Feedback

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to digital@moma.org.