Portraying a nation

Join OCA tutor Keith Roberts on the 19 August at Tate Liverpool. We will visit Portraying a Nation: Germany 1919–1933.

Weimar Germany was a significant period in the history of art, with Berlin becoming a thriving centre for new arts movements. The Wall Street Crash of 1929 forced many US banks to call in sort terms loans which had helped German economic recovery after WW1 ….. by 1932 one third of the Germans were unemployed, making conditions perfect for a radical change in government.

When the Nazi’s came to power in 1933 many of Germany’s leading figures in arts, science and academia were forced to emigrate. Two key practitioners who dealt with portraiture within this period are Otto Dix and August Sander, both using different media (painting and photography respectfully). The current exhibition at Tate Liverpool covers works from both of these key practitioners, which will be discussed during the study visit.

Focus will be placed upon the photographic portraiture of August Sander whose attempt to record the stratification of German society at that time, placed him at odds with the Nazi propaganda machine. These works are significant in the history of photographic portraiture, with Sander’s ‘Menschen Des 20 Jahrhunderts’ (Citizens of the 20th Century) depicting 500 photographic portraits intended as a physiognomic definition of German people in this period. Sander’s publications were selected for burning by the Nazi’s in Bebelplatz, in Berlin on 10th May 1933.

To reserve your place please email enquiries@oca.ac.uk or alternatively to request a place on a study visit please click here and complete the form.

For study events that require a ticket, there is a non refundable fee of £10 to pay and your confirmation email will instruct you on how to do this.

Image credit: August Sander The Painter Otto Dix and his Wife Martha 1925-6, printed 1991 © Die Photographische Sammlung / SK Stiftung Kultur – August Sander Archiv, Cologne / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn and DACS, London 2017


  1. Jennifer 27 July 2017 at 9:13 pm

    I’ve just been to see this, and although I’m glad I’ve now seen a lot of the work by both artists, wouldn’t rave over it as an exhibition in the way some of the reviewers have.

  2. yasmin elizabeth graves 28 July 2017 at 6:30 pm

    Hello Jennifer,

    Can you be more specific, do you mean the content was poor i.e the artists work?.

  3. Jennifer 4 August 2017 at 9:38 pm

    No – all the work was wonderful! But I didn’t think it was a good exhibition. The August Sander exhibition is one of the Artist Rooms, and this is the first time I’ve had to pay to see one of those. And usually, one of the Artist Rooms exhibition has more than enough in it to standalone (including this one). Putting it behind admission charges rings alarm bells for me. I also thought it wasn’t as well-curated as the other Artist Rooms exhibitions I’ve seen, which is not what you expect in one of the Tates. The Otto Dix, I also thought fell short as regards presentation – and in some ways there was too much. The two together did feel like an overdose, and possibly made that large to justify the admission charge? The Otto Dix has been at other galleries, on its own, and I think that would have been better. I’d recommend the online teachers resources, though.


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