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Body modern : Fritz Kahn, scientific illustration, and the homuncular subject / Michael Sappol

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Material Type
Sappol, Michael, author.
Publication Info.
Minneapolis, MN : University of Minnesota Press, [2017]


1 online resource (xv, 247 pages) : illustrations
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computer n rdamedia
online resource nc rdacarrier
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Includes bibliographical references and index.
Introduction: Fritz Kahn, Modernity, and the Invention of Conceptual Scientific Illustration -- Reading Kahn and the Homunculus -- "Much Better than Words": Pictured Knowledge and the Rhetoric of Visuality -- Ocularcentric! Conceptual Illustration at Work in the "Great Loop" -- Variety Show: The Studio of Kahn and Its Visual Devices -- Kahn's Take Away: Conceptual Scientific Illustration's Iconophilic Diaspora -- "To Picture the Body": Kahn's Images in the Postmodern Afterlife -- Epilogue: Towards a Theory of the Homunculus.
Online resource; title from digital title page (viewed on April 27, 2017).
"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 (1888-1968), 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 image--an illustration that was conceptual and scientific, a visual explanation of how things work--and 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 Kahn's project was vast--entirely new kinds of visual explanation--and 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, Kahn's 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."-- Provided by publisher.
Local Note
Kahn, Fritz, 1888-1968.
Kahn, Fritz, 1888-1968
Scientific illustration -- History -- 20th century.
Visual communication in science -- History -- 20th century.
Science in popular culture -- History -- 20th century.
Modernism (Aesthetics)
Human beings.
Illustration scientifique -- Histoire -- 20e siècle.
Communication visuelle en sciences -- Histoire -- 20e siècle.
Sciences dans la culture populaire -- Histoire -- 20e siècle.
Modernisme (Esthétique)
Êtres humains.
Homo sapiens (species)
ART -- Techniques -- Drawing.
ART -- History -- Modern (late 19th Century to 1945)
Human beings
Modernism (Aesthetics)
Science in popular culture
Scientific illustration
Visual communication in science
Chronological Term
Other Form:
Print version: Sappol, Michael. Body modern. Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press, 2017 9781517900205 (DLC) 2016036909
9781452915777 (electronic book)
1452915776 (electronic book)
9781452915920 (electronic book)
145291592X (electronic book)
9781517900205 (hardcover alkaline paper)
1517900204 (hardcover alkaline paper)
9781517900212 (paperback)
1517900212 (paperback)