The J. Paul Getty Museum

[Coal Carrier, Berlin (Berliner Kohlenträger)]

Object Details


[Coal Carrier, Berlin (Berliner Kohlenträger)]


August Sander (German, 1876 - 1964)




Berlin, Germany (Place Created)




Gelatin silver print

Object Number:



24.1 × 15.2 cm (9 1/2 × 6 in.)


© J. Paul Getty Trust

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Object Description

August Sander, whose systematic documentation of the German people included manual laborers, captured this unshaven coal carrier stepping out of a building with his burden slung over his shoulder. According to Sander's hierarchical theory, the laborer's place was on the lower rungs of society. By photographing his subject emerging from a dark basement, Sander underscored his theory quite literally.

In this image, the doorway framing the laborer sets a boundary between the bright light of day and the shadowy depths behind him. The man's bent leg, which seems to propel him forward, lends dynamism to a composition that might otherwise have been static.

- 1964

August Sander, German, 1876 - 1964, by inheritance to his son, Gunther Sander, 1964.

1964 - late 1960s

Gunther Sander, German, 1907 - 1987, sold to Volker Kahmen and Georg Heusch, late 1960s.

late 1960s - 1984

Volker Kahmen & Georg Heusch, sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1984.

August Sander: Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum (September 22 to October 30, 1988)
  • Stiftung Bahnhof Rolandseck, September 22 to October 30, 1988
August Sander: Faces of the German People (May 21 to November 3, 1991)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), May 21 to July 28, 1991
  • J.B. Speed Art Museum (Louisville), September 17 to November 3, 1991
August Sander: German Portraits, 1918-1933 (March 6 to June 24, 2001)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), March 6 to June 24, 2001
August Sander's People of the 20th Century (November 16, 2007 to September 14, 2008)
  • Art Gallery of New South Wales (Sydney), November 16, 2007 to February 3, 2008
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), May 6 to September 14, 2008

Sander, August. Antlitz der Zeit: Sechzig Aufnahmen Deutscher Menschen des 20. Jahrhunderts, mit einer Einleitung von Alfred Döblin. (München: Transmare: K. Wolff, 1929).

Lange, Susanne and Gabriele Conrath-Scholl. August Sander: People of the 20th Century. (Die Photographische Sammlung: SK Stiftung Kultur, Cologne 2002), II/10/1.