nftu #10 – a further thought on August Sander

Reading Max Kozloff’s essay, New Documents Revisited (part of the introduction to Meister, S. H. (2017) Arbus, Friedlander, Winogrand – New documents, 1967.  Museum of Modern Art, New York) the following sentence jumped out at me from the section on Diane Arbus (p.24):

‘Growing out of that tradition [commercial studio practice…based on deference to the sitter’s performance] Sander came to visualize pictures that were about personal performance, not an endorsement of them.’

This seems to me as good a way as any of describing the effect of pictures like that of the Pastry Cook in Face of Our Time (1929, plate 16) as he stands there in his kitchen,  spoon and bowl in hand, hidden behind his moustache in his white coat. There is an implied distance between Sander and his subjects that is vital, I think and that lack of endorsement is at the heart of it…

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