With People of the 20th Century, August Sander created a monumental work that is unique in the history of photography and a classic of photographic literature. Sander conceived this large-scale project, which he ultimately never completed, in the 1920s. He was to spend the rest of his life working on it, his objective nothing less than a complete typological portrait of contemporary society. Hundreds of portraits classified according to professional, social or family criteria were to provide a representative picture of the various social groups.
He envisaged seven groups labeled “The Farmer”, “The Skilled Tradesman”, “The Woman”, “Classes and Professions”, “The Artists”, “The City” and—on the theme of age, illness, and death—“The Last People”.