STADT UND LAND (THE TOWN AND COUNTRY): Vintage prints from the 1920s and '30s by August Sander, through March 7 at Sander Gallery, 2604 Connecticut Avenue NW.
During the '20s and '30s, photographer August Sander preserved images of a Germany caught between industrialization and Old World ways, in Cologne and the surrounding countryside. Now you can see some of these images at the Sander Gallery, which is run by his grandson. Pastoral landscapes with dramatic skies and farms that seem little changed since the Middle Ages collide with photographs of new factories. A detail of elaborate statues on the city hall facade and pointed filigree arches on Cologne's cathedral contrast dramatically with the stark geometric lines of ultra-modern Art Deco buildings.
A portraitist by profession, Sander turned to landscape and architectural photography when the Nazis burned his book of Cologne citizens and arrested one of his sons for leftist activities. People disappeared from his pictures after that, save for an occasional weathered farmer, who blended into the scenery as harmoniously as a barn or pasture.
Sander's earlier training as a painter gave him a good grasp of the composition necessary for effective photography. Bold lines and dramatic shadows convey a love for the area and its residents without stooping to sentimentality.