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After working as a miner, Sander was an apprentice in different photography studios. Beginning 1901, he worked as a commercial portrait photographer at the studio in Linz. In 1910, he moved to Cologne and managed a portrait studio in Cologne’s Lindental district. In the 1920s, Sander initiated his project «Menschen des 20. Jahrhunderts,» conveying a first impression of the photo-book «Antlitz der Zeit» (The Countenance of Time from 1929, with a foreword by Alfred Döblin). This project made Sander a central representative of an objective, photographic style which, alongside the «Neuen Sehen» (New Seeing), reflected the creative impulse of 1920s and 1930s Avant-Garde photography. Sander’s books were confiscated during the Nazi era, but a large portion of his archive could be rescued during the war. Alongside photographing landscapes and architecture, he repeatedly worked on his longtime project never published in his lifetime, but which first appeared in 1980 as a book prefaced by Ulrich Keller.