Sunday, August 13, 2006

Industrial Anatomy

The above 2 images are from 'The Miracle of Life'
1941, edited by Harold Wheeler -
scanned and posted online in June by Laputan Logic.

This is a variant of the very well known Fritz Kahn image
[from 'Der Mensch als Industriepalast' -- 'Man as Industrial Palace' 1926].
I found the image at Hyde Park who tell us that it's actually a poster and
that the illustration was done by Georg Helbig (nothing much online about him).
I cleaned up the background a little.

This Fritz Kahn image is from 'Das Leben des Menschen' 1929 --
'The Life of Humans' -- found on this University of Konstanz subsite.
A much larger version is available at the dutch Debalie site.

'The Factory of the Lungs' (Kahn)

'The Reflex Mechanism of Salivation' (Kahn)

I've posted this image from the 'Dream Anatomy' site before but I
thought it was relevant again here. It may not be quite in the same
symbolic style as Kahn but this 1708 woodcut juxtaposition of human
anatomy with a building nonetheless conveys the idea of compartmentalising
and functional specialising. It is by Dr. Toviyah Kats from a Hebrew encylopedia.

'The Workings of the Nervous System' (Kahn)

After coming across a website at the British Library devoted to Fritz Kahn's metaphorical anatomy illustrations I went off searching, expecting that they belonged to a genre and that there would be at least a number of other examples around.

That still may be the case but they don't easily turn up using a bunch of relevant search terms. If anyone else knows of other images of human anatomy drawn as factories and machines please leave a comment or email me.

From the paucity of information online about the Jewish scientist +/- doctor, Fritz Kahn (1888-1968), we find out that he released a number of books in the early part of the 20th century. The obvious common trait about his illustrations is that he places the human body in a sort of industrial modernity.

I find this work particularly interesting because Kahn manages both to present the metaphor of the human body as a factory whilst simultaneously reflecting the mechanised times he lived in. Technological and industrial advancements by way of turbines and telephones and projectors and conveyor belts and other elements of automation give his work an air of 'futurism'. Wonderful stuff.

His religion and outspoken advocacy for social reform meant that Kahn was at risk during the rise of nazism. He was among the lucky couple of thousand prominent Jewish (and other, at risk) persons that were helped out of Europe by the underground American people smuggler, Varian Fry.


peacay said...

No worries. Glad you like it.

peacay said...

Another 2 relevant images at Agence Eureka:
here and here

Scribbler said...


Unknown said...

I do the same as "a35mmlife"

thank you!!!

Alexis Barattin said...

thirded, i recommend this blog to everything with a pulse. such fantastic eyecandy, this is what the internet was made for!

aneglakya said...

Here's a link to a Chinese poster titled: 人體好像工廠, or "The Human Body Resembles a Factory" ...

Anonymous said...

Hi! Awesome collections... I can spend hours looking through them...
If you are interested in an animated version of the Industrial Palace by Fritz Kahn, have a look at my film: and more information about this project on the website:

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