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Body Modern Fritz Kahn, Scientific Illustration, and the Homuncular Subject

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  • ISBN13:9781517900212
  • ISBN10:1517900212
  • Publisher:Univ Of Minnesota Press
  • Language:English
  • Author:Michael Sappol
  • Binding:Paperback
  • SUPC: SDL554872788


A poster first printed in Germany in 1926 depicts the human body as a factory populated by tiny workers doing industrial tasks. Devised by Fritz Kahn 18881968, a German-Jewish physician and popular science writer, Der Mensch als Industriepalast or Man as Industrial Palace achieved international fame and was reprinted, in various languages and versions, all over the world. It was a new kind of imagean illustration that was conceptual and scientific, a visual explanation of how things workand Kahn built a career of this new genre. In collaboration with a stable of artists only some of whom were credited, Kahn created thousands of images that were metaphorical, allusive, and self-consciously modern, using an eclectic grab-bag of schools and styles Dada, Art Deco, photomontage, Art Nouveau, Bauhaus functionalism, and commercial illustration.In Body Modern, Michael Sappol offers the first in-depth critical study of Fritz Kahn and his visual rhetoric. Kahn was an impresario of the modern who catered to readers who were hungry for products and concepts that could help them acquire and perform an overdetermined modern identity. He and his artists created playful new visual tropes and genres that used striking metaphors to scientifically explain the life of Man. This rich and largely obscure corpus of images was a technology of the self that naturalized the modern and its technologies by situating them inside the human body.The scope of Kahns project was vastentirely new kinds of visual explanationand so was his influence. Today, his legacy can be seen in textbooks, magazines, posters, public health pamphlets, educational websites, and Hollywood movies. But, Sappol concludes, Kahns illustrations also pose profound and unsettling epistemological questions about the construction and performance of the self. Lavishly illustrated with more than 100 images, Body Modern imaginatively explores the relationship between conceptual image, image production, and embodied experience.

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