Works from the Collection
Hans Eijkelboom: Ode to August Sander, 1981
With his multi-part work Ode to August Sander, Hans Eijkelboom presented in 1981 a distinctive and timely reflection on August Sander’s cultural masterwork "People of the Twentieth Century". Eijkelboom’s photographic field research is inspired by questions about idealized images, how people develop them and how these images influence their critical judgments and categorization of real-life phenomena. Ode to August Sander was executed in several steps: In the town of Arnhem, where he lived at the time, Eijkelboom asked people on the street how they would classify humans in all their diversity according to distinctive characteristics. The categories they came up with included for example “country people,” “day trippers,” and “rowdy youth,” and also cited attributes such as “good humoured,” “firm,” and “aggressive.” Together with the interviewees, the artist then set out to find people who fit the categories and take their pictures. Eijkelboom arranged the resulting portraits into tableaux, including a picture of the person who proposed the category. The people he questioned are shot like Sander’s subjects, in natural poses, while the various types noticed on the street are captured in passing in quick snapshots.
In a humorous and seemingly effortless way, Eijkelboom thus revealed with Ode to August Sander the open system of references and meanings brought to bear by everyone which serves as a kind of profiling or orientation aid that helps us to evaluate our surroundings and yet, when viewed from a critical distance, can only be considered irrational and situation-dependent. Each short catalogue of features is presented as one subjective option among many others, focusing on aspects that may come to the fore in society simultaneously or at different times.
The work Ode to August Sander by Hans Eijkelboom was purchased with the kind support of the Society of Patrons of Die Photographische Sammlung/ SK Stiftung Kultur Cologne e.V. and its members.