Release of new monograph
September 29, 2013, the 125th birthday of Dr. Fritz Kahn, is the release date of an enhanced issue of the sold-out Kahn monograph by the siblings Uta and Thilo von Debschitz. The new monograph, at 392 pages almost twice the volume of the first issue, presents Kahn the visualizer in more than 350 images, including yet unpublished illustrations, photographs, and documents. Transcriptions and original pages of several illustrated magazine articles follow the extensive illustrations section. Kahn’s works are framed by a foreword by design historian Steven Heller, an introduction to Kahn’s career and work methods, and biographical and bibliographical information. Publisher TASCHEN officially introduced the release to the global public at the International Book Fair, which took take place in Frankfurt October 9–13, 2013.
Even 100 years ago, typographers, scientists and graphic artists worked on a picture-based “language” that used the universal understanding through images. “Words separate, images unite“ was the motto for a new visual language created by Otto Neurath, who – like Fritz Kahn – stands out as one of the pioneers of popular infographics. Under the title “Transformers. Infographics 1920 to 1945: Kahn – Neurath “, this exhibition of the German Book and Script Museum of the German National Library is dedicated to the visual masterminds Fritz Kahn and Otto Neurath. It deals with the rediscovery and profiling of the image as an information and communication source at the beginning of the 20th century. The exhibition is based on the publications preserved in the German National Library, but also shows objects from US, British, Dutch, Austrian and Swiss archives, as well as unique pieces from the collection of the Debschitz siblings. The exhibition will be opened in Leipzig on September 7, 2017, and will last until January 7, 2018.
The American medical historian Michael Sappol has recently published a first in-depth critical study of Fritz Kahn’s visual rhetoric: Body Modern – Fritz Kahn, Scientific Illustration, and the Homuncular Subject (University of Minnesota Press) explores how Fritz Kahn’s popular scientific illustrations visualized and performed industrial modernity. Lavishly illustrated with more than 100 images, the book addresses the relationship between conceptual image, image production, and embodied experience. Michael Sappol concludes that Kahn’s illustrations pose profound and unsettling epistemological questions about the construction and performance of the self.
“Crush on the human machine” reported the local press after the opening of the special exhibition Phänomen Energie in Lüdenscheid. Schoolchildren had enthusiastically climbed an interactive sculpture, designed after Fritz Kahn’s visualization “Man as Industrial Palace”. Using simple mechanisms, the larger than life-sized body model illustrates various processes of energy generation and transformation in the human body. The human machine and a subsequent energy path with 16 sections can still be seen until April 17, 2016 in the interactive science museum Phänomenta Lüdenscheid.
None of our senses is deeper connected with our memory than the sense of smell. Shouldn’t we pay as much attention to this dimension in the context of design as we do in other media? Martin Hegel and Matthias Wagner K examine this question in their book “Für den tieferen Sinn – Duft als Medium in Kunst, Design und Kommunikation” (For the deeper sense – smell as medium in art, design, and communication; Spielbein Publishers, German, 2016). The cultural managers of the Museums Angewandte Kunst in Frankfurt, Germany, want to inspire creatives to apply smells and scents in their (workaday) life more consciously and to accept smell as a shapable medium. In addition to his famous images “Man as Industrial Palace” and “Biology of a Roast’s Smell”, five more illustrations from Fritz Kahn’s oeuvre can be found in the publication; they frame an interview with physician and biologist Hans Hatt, one of Germany’s most renowned smell scientists. An introduction of Kahn by Uta von Debschitz accompanies the interview.
From early anatomy studies, created as woodcuts, to digital images of microbiological structures – the techniques and technologies to make human bodily functions visible have changed throughout the centuries. The exhibition “Den Körper im Blick” (The Body in Focus) at the Bibliothek Münstergasse in Bern, Switzerland, presents various methods of depicting the human body. One entire room is reserved for Fritz Kahn and extraordinary illustrations from his books. The exhibition can be visited until March 17, 2017.
An image from the Fritz Kahn publication “Das Leben des Menschen”, vol. III (1928) appears in the graphic novel “The Invisible War”. The main character of the comic, which is set during World War I, is the nurse Annie Barnaby. While caring for a wounded soldier, she is infected by a life-threatening virus. The story, created by a team of creatives and scientists that includes illustrator Ben Hutchings, can be experienced on two levels. The first level describes events in a French field hospital and interactions of the medical staff and patients. On a second level and in a 4,000 x magnification, one can follow the process of Barnabys’ instestinal infection. The Kahn illustration is part of an extensive appendix that depicts the proportions of the human intestine and its length (about eight meters).
In the Rete Uno radio show “Chi Assaggia Rimane”, curator Elizabeth Camozzi talks about Fritz Kahn’s years in Switzerlands’ Ticino canton. Kahn lived in Ascona from 1948 to 1950, in Lugano in the 1950s, and finally in Locarno, where he passed away in 1968. – Rete Uno, produced in Lugao-Besso, is the first public radio station in the Italian part of Switzerland.
Beitrag auf Rete Uno (in Italian)
In the exhibition “Carambolage” (March 2 to July 4, 2016, Grand Palais, Paris), curator Jean-Hubert Martin assembled works by known and unknown artists. Just like a billiard ball hitting two other balls, each work reverberates with another. The presentation of the 185 artworks from various epochs and genres departs from the traditional art-historical approach and provokes unexpected chains of associations. In addition to works by Alberto Giacometti, Man Ray, and Albrecht Dürer, Carambolage includes the poster “Man as Industrial Palace” (1926) by Fritz Kahn.
Twenty-two years ago, as he was completing a graphic design internship at Pentagram in New York City, Thilo von Debschitz happened to meet the son of Fritz Kahn. This personal encounter was followed by another unexpected event, 15 years later, when von Debschitz stumbled upon the name Fritz Kahn in a small credit line in the “Industrial Palace” illustration. This chain of coincidences set off an intense search for traces of Kahn’s life and work by the siblings Uta and Thilo von Debschitz, who eventually published two monographs about his career. At the end of October, Thilo von Debschitz returned to New York, where Pentagram invited him to present a lunchtime talk about the Fritz Kahn book projects and Kahn’s publications. – Pentagram is one of the world’s most renowned design agencies, with studios in New York, San Francisco, Austin, London, and Berlin.
Pentagram (Website in English)
The annual TEDx RheinMain conference took place at the Campus Kronberg near the City of Frankfurt; among others, the list of eight speakers included Vincent Hendricks (Center for Information & Bubble Studies, Copenhagen), Mark Higgins (Eumetsat, Darmstadt), Kasper Fangel Skov (Skanderborg), Maryline Lengert (ESA, Rome), and Thilo von Debschitz. The co-author of the monograph “Fritz Kahn” presented a fine selection from of the visualization treasures in Kahn’s books and demonstrated that Fritz Kahn’s creative work is fascinating even today. (Photo: Clemens Riemenschneider)
The theme of the three-day typographic symposium Typo 2015 in St.Gallen, Switzerland was “Tempo”. World-class speakers, including the designer Dafi Kühne (Switzerland), François Chastanet (France), Benji Wiedemann (Great Britain), and Carvalho Bernau (The Netherlands), presented current agency and publication projects related to the topic. On the speakers’ list also: Thilo von Debschitz, co-author of the monograph “Fritz Kahn”, who took the audience on a journey into the past, into the era of the Weimar Republic, and illuminated the meaning of Kahn as a pioneer of information design. (Photo: Michael Bundscherer)
Typo St.Gallen (website in German)
In an interview with Viola von Zadow, journalist with the German blog “Design made in Germany”, co-author Thilo von Debschitz describes what kept him motivated for working on the “Fritz Kahn” publication project .
Design made in Germany (full article in German)
In her article “Man as high-performance machine: How our body works” and a gallery of 17 images, journalist Sandra Leinfelder refers to the work of Fritz Kahn and the monograph published by the Debschitz siblings. She states that Kahn “visualized complex biological and physical processes with impressive visuals that are easy to comprehend for a wide audience”. – The German website “Welt der Wunder” (World of Wonders) is the online channel of “Welt der Wunder TV”, an ambitious 24/7 free TV program focusing on science, entertainment, and documentaries.
Welt der Wunder (article in German)
“The Doctor of the Future”, a visionary image from a 1939 Fritz Kahn book, illustrated a retrospective on the Medicine and the Digital Revolution conference. The event, held in December 2014 at the University of Zürich, brought together an international group of anthropologists, sociologists, and historians. Over two days, these scholars discussed the convergence of clinical medicine and public health with new ways of data management and online cultures, and reflected on the role that the social sciences might play in this revolution. Recent decades have witnessed the rise of new information and communication technologies, which have profoundly shaped the world of medicine – including the field of telemedicine which Fritz Kahn anticipated in his illustration more than 75 years ago. – Medicine Anthropology Theory is an English-language, open-access journal that publishes scholarly articles, essays, reviews, and reports related to medical anthropology and science and technology studies.
MAT (full article in English)
At QVED 2015, Thilo von Debschitz presented highlights from publications by Dr. Fritz Kahn. His speech was part of a program section focusing on information design, curated by Professor Michael Stoll. – QVED (Quo Vadis Editorial Design) is an annual, international design conference held in Munich where designers, journalists, and publishers report about their projects. Among the speakers of 2015 were Steven Heller, Roger Black, and John D. Berry (USA), Muir Vidler, Steven Watson, and Jeremy Leslie (Great Britain), Paul Maréchal (Canada), Jaap Biemans (the Netherlands), Filip Blazek (Czech Republic), Veronika Burian (Spain), Nicolò Degiorgis (Italy), Mike Koedinger (Luxembourg) and the German creatives Herlinde Koelbl, Heika Hinze, Jan Schwochow, Jörg Bommel, and Oliver Sperl. (Photo: Andreas Baier)
The Illustrated Forest, an independent review site “dedicated to showcasing fantastic picture books”, judges the FRITZ KAHN monograph as a “truly inspirational book. [… ] Each turn of the page offers something different, and of course unexpected. Kahn’s ability to make science more approachable is masterful. [… ] With so many images contained this is a book to while away the hours with, epitomising as it does the notion that learning can be fun. [… ] Turning a complicated subject matter from the exclusive to the inclusive, FRITZ KAHN is a weighty tome that will be as entertaining on the hundredth viewing as it is the first. This surreally delightful book is sure to tickle the fancy of anyone with a love of science, graphic design or visual expression. In short, everyone will love this book.”
The Illustrated Forest (complete review)
Asked about her literary favourites for 2014, cultural journalist Marianne Vermeijden counts Fritz Kahn as one of the three best books of the year. Her review of February 21, 2014, in the Dutch daily newspaper NRC Handelsblad, concludes: “This monograph is a must.” – The NRC Handelsblad is a national newspaper and among the most influential dailies in the Netherlands.
Viola Bolduan, cultural editor of the Wiesbadener Kurier newspaper, recommends the Kahn monograph as a Christmas gift. She writes: “With a glass of hot wine punch in hand, one could enjoy the almost 400-page volume about the pioneer of information design by the von Debschitz siblings. Anybody looking for something heavy and prestigious – to give or receive – could acquire this book with confident taste.”
Wiesbadener Kurier (article in German)
Der Mensch als Industriepalast, Fritz Kahn’s famous wall chart, is part of the exhibition Anatomist: The Factory of the Human Body in the Pauls Stradiņš History of Medicine Museum in Riga, Latvia.
The exhibition, on display until March 16, 2015, has two closely linked parts: The first reviews modern artists’ interpretations of the “factory of the human body”, while the second presents work on the same theme by Andreas Vesalius.
This year marks the 500th anniversary of Vesalius’ birth in Brussels. He was an outstanding physician and known as the father of scientific anatomy. In 1543, he published the textbook De humani corporis fabrica, which overturned the prevailing views of the structure of the human body. In the book, Vesalius revealed “living” anatomy, beyond the traditional frozen boundaries. Visitors to the exhibition can examine the second edition of De humani corporis fabrica, which was released in 1555, and an interactive version of the book allows visitors to view it page by page. The exhibition also features anatomic specimens from the Jēkabs Prīmanis Museum of Anatomy.
Modern interpretations of the human body as a factory are presented in the work of 10 local artists, who worked in partnership with the Belgian Embassy in Latvia and the magazine Kuš! International interpretations of the human body as a factory are also included. For example, the exhibition presents an animated video by the German artist Henning M. Lederer based on Der Mensch als Industriepalast, created by the German physician and artist Fritz Kahn in 1926.
The illustration “Animal Clock” from the Fritz Kahn publication Das Buch der Natur (The Book of Nature) is the opening visual of the brand new book Understanding the World (TASCHEN, 2014). The hefty, four kilogram volume, subtitled The Atlas of Infographics, features more than 280 artworks that explain how the world works, from a 19th century bar chart of Earth’s highest mountains, to a 2012 information graphic on how to wear a kilt. Author Sandra Rendgen and editor Julius Wiedemann included further Kahn images showing the “male and female sex apparatus” (Unser Geschlechtsleben, 1937) and his vision of a manned space rocket (Berliner Morgenpost, 1933).
As the first item in its section “Selected Art and Design Titles”, MONOQI recommends the monograph FRITZ KAHN to its members. – MONOQI decribes itself as “the online destination for hand-picked design”. With over 70 employees from 22 countries, MONOQI’s international scouting team searches the globe for the best contemporary design. Each day, in its strong curatorial process, MONOQI presents approximately 50 distinctive products. In addition, MONOQI produces a blog that features various topics from the world of design. One of MONOQI’s largest shareholders is Condé Nast, which includes VOGUE, GQ, Architectural Digest, and WIRED in their German portfolio.
In his article Fritz Kahn: Picturing the Man Machine in uncube magazine, Leigh Theodore Vlassis introduces Fritz Kahn to his readers: “His ambitious approach to his speculative drawings provided viewers with a different perspective in understanding science and the functions of the human body at the start of the twentieth century.” Vlassis documents his judgment with twelve stunning images from Fritz Kahn’s publications. He also writes that the von Debschitz siblings “brought the work of Fritz Kahn to new audiences, and reconceived Kahn’s biography and work in their book titled Fritz Kahn”, in which they reframe his life’s work.
uncube magazine (article in English)
As a result of a graduate seminar in the History of Art and Architecture department led by Professors Drew Armstrong and Joshua Ellenbogen, the students of the University of Pittsburg organized an exhibit, titled “Configuring Disciplines: Fragments of an Encyclopedia”. Broadly, it examines how images (maps, portraits, anatomical illustrations, etc.) shape disciplines such as physics, anthropology, and architecture history. Because of this thematic orientation the objects are quite diverse, from 16th century botanical illustrations to Andy Warhol portraits and a 21-foot timeline. Between an Otto Neurath display and volumes of Diderot and d’Alembert’s Encyclopédie, PhD student Annika Johnson placed four volumes of Das Leben des Menschen, the poster Der Mensch als Industriepalast, and enlarged reproductions of several of his mechanical analogies. The idea was to examine three different instances of revelatory approaches to the organization and visualization of knowledge, and these artist/author’s efforts to make information accessible to a broad audience.
The monograph Fritz Kahn was nominated for Science Book of the Year 2014 by a jury of eleven experts: Urs Willmann (Die Zeit), Dr. Dr. Jens Simon (PTB), Reto Schneider (Neue Zürcher Zeitung), Barbara Ritzert (freelance journalist), Jürgen Nakott (National Geographic Germany), Joachim Müller-Jung (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung), Peter Ehmer (WDR), Dr. Joachim Bublath (science publicist), Dr. Reinhard Breuer (science publicist), Dr. Markus Bohn (SWR), and Dr. Uta Altmann (bild der wissenschaft) have screened the market of new publications in the past twelve months and compiled a list of nominees in six categories. Among the ten books in the “Aesthetics” category, they selected the TASCHEN publication Fritz Kahn.
Bild der Wissenschaft (German Website)
In its list “Books for the Summer of 2014”, the cultural radio station Kulturradio RBB recommends the monograph Fritz Kahn to its listeners. In the category “Suspenseful relaxation”, the TASCHEN publication is listed as one of 19 book tips. Editor Dr. Danuta Goernandt writes: “A cross-generational book for a wonderful, amusing, and informative journey into our body! A discovery!”
List of recommended books (PDF list in German)
The German medical journal Orthopädie & Rheuma (Orthopedics & Rheumatism, issue 3/2014) published a book review on the new Fritz Kahn monograph. Journalist Eberhard J. Wormer writes, among other comments: “Kahn takes his readers on a journey through the body and tells exciting, entertaining, and informative stories about the secrets of life. […] With this book we got Fritz Kahn back. Each page shows surprising and inventive interpretations of natural scientific phenomena. We smile or wonder – and in the end we even extend our knowledge.”
Orthopädie & Rheuma (German website)
In his article “The Body as Factory: Anatomy of an Image”, British columnist Rick Poynor identifies relationships between the famous Fritz Kahn chart “Der Mensch als Industriepalast” (Man as Industrial Palace) with several works created by Nichola Bruce, Michael Coulson, and Eduardo Paolozzi. Poynor presents various images that depict the inner human body as both machine and factory. “We have been looking at this kind of imagery a lot recently”, he states, “… with two monographs on Fritz Kahn, a long-neglected doctor, science writer and pioneer of information graphics, who used visual metaphors to elucidate the body’s hidden processes.” The Industriepalast poster also appeared in exhibitions at the Mayor Gallery and the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London, as Rick Poynor proves with two photographs from 1939 and 1951.
Design Observer (full article)
Four times a year, the TED organization sends out a fine selection of up to three books that support the TED mission: spreading thoughts that change attitudes, lives, and ultimately the world, by bringing together ideas from the fields of technology, entertainment, and design (= TED). Now, the TED Book Club jury has included the Fritz Kahn monograph in their bi-monthly recommendations, which means that the world’s most inspired thinkers as well as attendees of the two global annual TED conferences will receive the Kahn publication in early 2014. Through its decision, the jury acknowledges Fritz Kahn’s inspirational mind and his work as a pioneer of information design.
“Roots” was the theme of this years TYPO Berlin, Europe’s biggest design conference. Since Fritz Kahn was a pioneer of information design, Thilo von Debschitz was invited to give a lecture about Kahn. On the TYPO stage he took his audience on a time journey back to the Weimar Republic, presented selected work from Kahn’s publications, and demonstrated with several examples that Kahn’s work inspires creative work all over the world even today.
“A discovery!“ Danuta Görnandt of German radio station Kulturradio RBB pronounces positive judgment on the new monograph Fritz Kahn. In her review, she states among other things: “Fritz Kahn did what one often would love to be proficient with when the human body is explained in natural scientific or medical lingo. Where we are about to surrender to complexity, Fritz Kahn finds metaphors and analogies describing the intricate mechanism of common human existence, and – more important – in a visual way. … These depictions have the advantage that they entertain and inform at the same time. … Fritz Kahn is a cross-generational book for a wonderful, witty, and informative voyage into our own bodies.” Kulturradio RBB rates the monograph with five “K”, its highest available score. – Kulturradio is a program of German broadcasting station RBB, providing up-to-date cultural information.
Kulturradio RBB (full article in German)
German newspaper Esslinger Zeitung refers to the new monograph Fritz Kahn in its Media and Review section with a large image of the illustration “Biology of a roast’s smell” – a masterpiece of early information design conceived by Fritz Kahn. Kahn is called a “universal genius” and “highly creative” whose “graphic depictions followed the plan of public enlightenment, explaining biological and physical processes to laymen.” – The Esslinger Zeitung is a German newspaper with a circulation of 42,000 copies.
In Lesezeichen (bookmarks), a new program on German cultural radio station SWR2, journalist Rochus Gross takes a look at the new monograph Fritz Kahn. Framed by three text excerpts from Kahn’s original publications, Gross conducts an interview with co-author Uta von Debschitz. The conversation covers the graphic quality of the Kahn books, his fanciful excursions into “other worlds” (comparable to the work of Jules Verne), and Kahn’s ability to exemplify complex content in a generally understandable way.
SWR2 Lesezeichen (in German, 10:22 minutes)
The nonfiction book Nützliche Bilder (Useful Images, Lit Verlag, Münster 2015) addresses visualizations that in certain ways are perceived as true. Author Rolf F. Nohr, a professor of media aesthetics, analyzes the open corpus of images and examines operations that make images become “useful”. Evidence theory, collective symbol analyzation, image and media sciences, the visual culture debate, cognitive science, and stereotype research form the book’s framework. One chapter of the publication looks at Fritz Kahn and Otto Neurath as pioneers of image and scientific didactics.
Nützliche Bilder (publisher’s website in German)
In her book review in the Swiss Tages-Anzeiger, journalist Annett Stein recommends the Fritz Kahn monograph. Entitled “Knowledge in Book – A different look at the Human Body”, her article concludes: “Kahn’s work is an impressive example of how complex content can be described by images and metaphors – and made accessible even for laymen. Rummaging in his illustrations provides wow effects up to today – and brings a lot of fun.” – The Tages-Anzeiger is a Swiss newspaper, published in Zürich, with a circulation of 175,000 copies.
In its seventh issue, IN GRAPHICS pays tribute to Dr. Fritz Kahn and refers to the new monograph. The magazine, which is devoted to information graphics, presents two black-and-white illustrations (Man as Industrial Palace, The length of the intestine) as two examples of Kahn’s way of explaining the phenomena of nature visually. In the article, Kahn is called “a master of infographics” whose work still has a “striking originality today”. – IN GRAPHICS is an international magazine (English/German), edited by renowned information designer Jan Schwochow and created by his staff at Golden Section Graphics in Berlin.
Golden Section Graphics
In its blog, New Jersey-based studio Works Design Group calls Fritz Kahn a “Creative Titan”. The article presents basic information about Kahn and his work. Among other things, it says: “He set the stage for visual representations of complicated data and his images are still widely used, covered and studied today. […] His illustrations and style have stood the test and continue to inspire the world of data visualization today.”
Works Design Group (full blog entry)
Entitled “The Body as Engine Room”, cultural journalist Hans Cottyn’s review states that the book on Fritz Kahn presents “hundreds of his path-breaking and bizarre visions”. The monograph “celebrates the wonders of the body” and rightfully rescues the work of the multi-talented Kahn from oblivion. – De Standaard is a national Dutch-language daily newspaper, published in Belgium.
Installation Magazine “previews TASCHEN’s fall collection and selects seven wondrous books that we would like to add to our own personal libraries.” The editors rank the new Fritz Kahn monograph first and name Kahn as an “information graphics pioneer whose brillant work has all but fallen into oblivion.”
In its news section, Dreisechsnull magazine reviews the Fritz Kahn monograph in a review entitled “Man in images”: “When a single hair loops 30 meters around the body, the human heart pumps an elevator up five floors, cells potter around in underground tunnels, we still don’t know what keeps the world running. But we see how man operates. All hairs bound together in one single hair grow one meter in 40 minutes, the heart pumps 10,000 litres of blood through the human body per day – enough to lift an elevator. Doctor Fritz Kahn illustrated in 1926 what makes humans tick. […] TASCHEN has published a new edition of the masterpiece Man Machine. Whoever thumbs through it, realizes: This is me.” – Dreisechsnull is a magazine (circulation: 330,000) for business clients of Deutsche Telekom, one of Europe’s leading telecommunications companies.
In its issue 46 (February/March 2014) Multimania – a bimonthly German magazine for contemporary multimedia culture – published a review of the Kahn monograph. Headlined “About Insects and Homunculi”, journalist Lutz Granert writes, among other comments: “The description of processes in the human body may be sometimes boring to laymen. But that doesn’t count for illustrations of a physician who felicitously simplified complex processes with impressive images. With the comprehensive volume FRITZ KAHN, the work of this pioneer of information graphics receives a tribute. […] FRITZ KAHN is an exemplary review of a great visionary’s extensive oevre, even if not all evidence of his visual work is included – he just had created too much. […] The coffee-table book follows Kahn’s credo: numerous images, little text – and so, exactly for this reason, it is easy to understand, extensive, and interesting even for people who are not normally interested in science.”
Multimania (website in German)
Entitled “Man Machine: The visionary work of Dr. Fritz Kahn”, London-based magazine Blueprint introduces the work of Fritz Kahn: “After looking at the graphic visualisations of the human body and its organs as devised by German scientist, gynaecologist and author Dr Fritz Kahn as a way to explain complex functions, it may not be possible to think of them in any other way again.” The article is followed by excerpts from Steve Heller’s foreword, taken from the new Fritz Kahn monograph. – Blueprint is the UK’s leading magazine for architecture and design. Revered by architects and designers worldwide, the award-winning title has an unrivalled pedigree. Blueprint digital content feeds into the Architecture, Design and Art sections of the DesignCurial site.
Blueprint Magazine (full article)
Christoph Fuhr, in ÄrzteZeitung, writes: “In the Weimar Republic, Fritz Kahn visualized the wonderworlds of the human body in a path-breaking technique. A new coffee-table book opens up his oevre. […] He created a fascinating but mostly forgotten life’s work. On the occasion of his 125th birthday, TASCHEN published a monograph with more than 350 illustrations from his books: Fritz Kahn – a doctor who led the popularization of science in countless new directions.” – The ÄrzteZeitung is a German newspaper for the medical profession with a circulation of 48,220 copies, published daily from Monday to Friday.
ÄrzteZeitung (review in German)
Journalist Kristin Lee Bryson from the Toronto Books Examiner explains how the coffee-table book Fritz Kahn was inspired by a coincidence and points out that the publication was recommended by the TED Book Club recently, acknowledging Kahn’s significant contribution to the birth of information design. The monograph, writes the author, is a “well-curated overview” of Fritz Kahn’s life and career.
Toronto Book Examiner (full article)
British culture blog Jildy Sauce publishes a review on the new Fritz Kahn monograph. Entitled “Nature imitates art”, the article states that “our understanding of nature is necessarily metaphorical. We can only understand the unknown through the known.” Fritz Kahn “takes the metaphorical, model-building mode of thinking that lies at the heart of science and uses it to raise a smile, provoke thought and (ultimately) aid unterstanding. … He sought to popularize science, his goal was to communicate his passion to the reader, to fire their enthusiasm for the subject. And he found a unique way of doing so.” The review concludes: “A beautiful book, full of thought provoking, fascinating images and laden with not a little humour.”
Jildy Sauce (full article)
In his review of the monograph Fritz Kahn, journalist Jo Caird writes that the publication “is bringing one of the most inventive thinkers of the 20th century into the public’s consciousness. Uta and Thilo von Debschitz have rescued Kahn from obscurity with a gorrgeous coffee-table book.” – European CEO is a leading subscription-based print and online publication, delivered quarterly to c-suite executives in 28 countries throughout Europe.
EuropeanCEO (full article)
“A masterpiece!” judges Dr. Ulf Pillkahn in his review of the monograph Fritz Kahn. He writes: “The authors succeed in presenting the life of Fritz Kahn as well as collecting and savoring his oeuvre in 400 pages. Both are quite impressive.”
Innovation review (full article in German)
In his article entitled “A visualizing genius”, Journalist Martin Rasper writes about the “magnificent” new monograph about Fritz Kahn. Rasper states that Kahn transformed anything worth knowing into images. “The burden of air pressure? Like carrying stell safes on one’s shoulders. The durability of the skin? Strong enough to hold a high-wire artist on a strip of only two or three centimeters. Body heat? Like a boiler melting 30 kilograms of ice. […] Kahn was totally aware that his simplifications were only metaphors and that reality is much more complicated. But his comprehensive knowledge and the will to depict it in an accessible way amazes even today.”– Natur is a German special-interest magazine about nature with a monthly edition of 62,400 copies.
Natur (German website)
US magazine Fast Company, The New York Observer, Brainpickings, and the blog Beautiful Now list the new monograph Fritz Kahn amongst the best books of 2013.
Fast Company (best design books)
Brainpickings (best art and design books)
Beautiful Now (most beautiful books)
The New York Observer (favourite coffee-table books)
Morton R. Godine Library (Highlights of the 2013 collection)
In his review of the monograph Fritz Kahn entitled “The world as diagram”, editor Eberhard Hahne writes: “With lovingly illustrated deptictions and comparisons with common processes, Kahn pulled complicated biological and physical operations off their scientific throne. […] The monograph’s thematic variety, illustrative charm, and lighthearted humour invite one to browse through on long winter evenings. Since the images are stunningly comprehensible, they recall forgotten natural scientific context.” – The Deutsches Ärzteblatt, founded in 1872, is a weekly German-language medical magazine sent to all physicians in Germany (c. 400,000 copies).
Deutsches Ärzteblatt (German website)
Library curator Thatcher Wine, who assembles book collections for interior designers and private clients, presents his “best-looking books of the year – which are also great reads”, including the new Kahn monograph. His comment: “Uta and Thilo von Debschitz’s eye-opening book highlights a lesser-known figure in the field of infographics – Fritz Kahn, a pioneer in the visual expression of ideas. The book is part history, part biography, and part art book.”
Hollywood Reporter (Thatcher Wine’s book list)
In its January 2014 issue, the German magazine Technology Review published an article on the new Kahn monograph. Jens Lubbadeh writes: “Kahn’s illustrations are still fascinating because they convey a sense of childish enthusiasm for technology which men might have felt when the modern era dawned.”
Technology Review (German website)
Heather Mallick, Toronto Star columnist, presents her list of books she “most loved and admired this year” and names the new Fritz Kahn monograph at number one. Her judgment on Kahn’s way of visualizing data: “It’s beyond cool.”
The Toronto Star (full article)
On the web site of the French newspaper Le Monde, Fritz Kahn is first in a list of science book recommendations. Entitled “The science of beautiful books”, the article points out eight new publications and begins with a description of the “beautiful” Kahn monograph. The reviewers write that in a time when imaging techniques can generate depictions of the human body down to cell-structure levels, Kahn’s illustrations may appear outdated or even incorrect. But the illustrations selected for the Kahn book – offering a great variety in technique and style – allow the reader to (re-)discover Fritz Kahn as a creative and humorous jack of all trades.
Le Monde (article in French)
Editors of Der Tagesspiegel recommend non-fiction books “to give away at Christmas – or to keep”, among the new monograph on Fritz Kahn. Amory Burchard writes about Kahn: “In terms of didactics he still is in sync with the times. Physicians of today might notice where his explanations have become outdated. But they will be excited by his strong visual language.” – Der Tagesspiegel is a German daily newspaper based in Berlin with a circulation of 148,000.
Der Tagesspiegel (article in German)
On the 125th anniversary of his birth, the work of Fritz Kahn is dramatically visible in Berlin again, in Charlottenburg, the same district of the German capital where Kahn spent his youth, started his international career as a popular science author, and from where he was expelled by the Nazis. For the TASCHEN store in Berlin (which opened today), the publishers decided to honor Kahn as a distinguished Berlin citizen and pay tribute to his pioneering work in information design: The façade and interior walls are covered with details of the Kahn illustration “Der Mensch als Industriepalast” (Man as Industrial Palace).
To enter the store, visitors have to pass through the stomach. TASCHEN stores are located in Amsterdam, Beverly Hills, Brussels, Cologne, Copenhagen, Hamburg, London, Miami, New York, and Paris, but this is the publisher’s first representation in Berlin. The pop-up store will close in early 2014, reopening with an enlarged sales space some weeks after.
In its German December/January edition, Architectural Digest (AD) lists “the most stylish gifts” for its readers. At the top of the book recommendations is the new TASCHEN book on Fritz Kahn: “As a pioneer of information design, Fritz Kahn found popular science metaphors and comparisons in the fields of biology, anatomy, physics, and technology. His best articles and images are now compiled in a trilingual monograph.”
In her article entitled “Fritz Kahn’s Fantastical Journey Through the Body”, Science Friday’s SciArts producer Annie Minoff writes about Kahn’s goal to “educate the public about how their bodies worked using familiar machines and other objects as visual metaphors for biological processes. A new book, Fritz Kahn, reacquaints us with this pioneer of popular science communication.” Minoff explains that “graphics weren’t Kahn’s only tool for demystifying science. While his captions could be surprisingly dry (a stark contrast to the near-psychedelic images they described), he could also be an engaging and whimsical essayist”. The Science Friday article also cites Uta von Debschitz, co-author of the Kahn monograph, who mentions her favourite Kahn image and exemplifies how Kahn found powerful ways of communicating to non-scientists.
Science Friday (full article)
In a two-page article in the Cologne newspaper “Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger”, journalist Christian Seiter writes about Fritz Kahn as a “pioneer of information graphics” whose “illustrations are adventurous journeys into one’s own body”.
On the website of the Typografische Gesellschaft München (Munich Typographic Society), book designer and author Rudolf Paulus Gorbach refers to the Fritz Kahn monograph. He writes that the new publication presents Kahn’s illustrations in large formats, and its simple page layout allows readers to view the images without distraction and enjoy pleasantly brief captions. He states that the book “provides an insight into the conceptual development of today’s non-abstract information graphics”.
Typografische Gesellschaft München (full article in Geman)
In its UK edition of January 2014, WIRED magazine introduces its readers to Fritz Kahn. Entitled “Where data-viz began”, the article states that “Fritz Kahn’s imaginative visualisations helped to pave the way for the infographics of today.” It quotes co-author Uta von Debschitz explaining why Kahn’s work from the 1920s and 30s is relevant to this day: “We’re in a similar situation to Kahn and his contemporaries: new technologies and media give access to increasing sources of knowledge, while the information itself becomes increasingly complex.”
WIRED (UK website)
Julia Gordeeva informs readers of Slanted.de about the new monograph on Fritz Kahn. She writes: “Uta and Thilo von Debschitz searched for biographical traces and brought Kahn’s creative and scientific work to life again. [Our editorial department] is in possession of a publication with numerous visual analogies and exceptionally fascinating artworks. His oevre is now accessible for a broad audience.” – Slanted.de is a weblog focused on typography and design. Founded in 2004, it has grown into one of the most important design portals and discussion forums in the German-speaking area.
Slanted (article in German)
In his article entitled “Two new books for visual thinkers you can’t read on a Kindle”, journalist Dean Meyers reviews The CG Story (a publication about computer-generated animation) – and the new Kahn monograph: “This amazing book, carefully curated and filled with images, displaying page after page of work by this pioneer of visual representation of information. […] Although not necessarly factual, in their fanciful metaphors they both stir the imagination and provide inspiration for artists and designers attempting to illustrate systems, cause and effect, or other types of visual stories that are ripe for metaphors that non-scientific audiences can grasp. […] Enjoy these two stimulating books.”
VizWorld (full article)
In his review in Proper Magazine, editor Neil Summers describes Fritz Kahn as “a total hero” as he is “he is pretty much solely responsible for bringing a real sense of fun and artistic merit to the previously quite dull and drab world of science via his truly incredible drawings.” Summers states that if he’d had the new “magical” Kahn monograph when he was at school, there’s a good chance he wouldn’t “have been made to stand outside the science block fiddling with the fire-alarm for an hour during every Physics/Chemistry lesson I ever ‘attended’ and would now have my own skin-care range/meth lab.”
Proper Magazine (full article)
In her review of the “magnificent volume” about Kahn, author Laura Weissmüller describes him as “a kind of prime father of data visualization”: “He wanted to visualize knowledge in a way that made it comprehensible for anyone.” Among the illustrative material, she discovers “almost surrealistic excursions into the inner nose, psychedelic color explosions on the intestinal mucosa, and dadaistic photo collages of the internal bone structure. Obviously Max Ernst, Giorgio de Chirico, and Man Ray have been the influences behind” his work. Kahns’ masterpiece – the wall chart “Der Mensch als Industriepalast” (Man as Industrial Palace) – didn’t indicate a mechanistic idea of man but shows Kahn’s enthusiasm about the technology of his time: “Just as he raved about Bauhaus design, he did the same for airplanes, radio transceivers, and even industrial processes. Moreover, his factories are not at the mercy of soulless robots but are always operated by – responsible – human beings.” Weissmüller’s conclusion: “His work fell into oblivion. It’s time to rediscover it.” – Süddeutsche Zeitung is the largest German national subscription daily newspaper.
ARCH+ magazine and the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation organized the international competition Out of Balance – Critique of the Present. Information Design after Otto Neurath. The results are presented in ARCH+ issue 213, which also includes a supplement on the history of information graphics, from ancient visualizations to today’s interface designs. A full-page article is dedicated to Fritz Kahn – with excerpts from Steve Hellers’s foreword in the new Kahn monograph and three outstanding Kahn illustrations. In a bibliography of information design, ARCH+ recommends “Fritz Kahn” by Uta and Thilo von Debschitz. – ARCH+ is a quarterly German magazine on architecture, urbanism, and design that was established in 1967. The magazine has been praised by a number of different architects and publications.
Out of Balance (English competition site)
In its German issue, fashion magazine VOGUE recommends the new Fritz Kahn monograph: “A pioneer of information graphics is rediscovered. How Fritz Kahn – polymath, doctor and bestselling author – translated the wonder worlds of the cosmos and the human body into vivid images is astonishing to this day, and has a bizarre charm.”
VOGUE (German website)
The fourth Translations Symposium, hosted by the design laboratory Gutenberg and the faculty for communication design of the University of Applied Sciences in Mainz, Germany, was entitled Design of Knowledge. The two-day event explored how designers analyze complex content and display it comprehensibly. Among the speakers were Stefanie Posavec (London), Oliver Reichenstein (Zürich, Tokyo), Jan Schwochow (Berlin), and the Dutch designers Joost Grootens (Studio Joost Grootens, Amsterdam), Dimitri Nieuwenhuizen (LUST, The Hague), Joris Maltha, and Daniel Gross (catalogtree, Arnhem). In his speech, Michael Stoll – professor at the University of Applied Sciences in Augsburg, Germany – presented selected examples from his international collection of rare books, focusing on the history of information design. Stoll emphazised the role of Fritz Kahn as a pioneer of the genre, showed images from his popular sciences books, and recommended the new monograph Fritz Kahn to the many symposium attendees.
Translations 4 Symposium (website)
In her review of the Fritz Kahn monograph in Nature (Vol. 503), Barbara Kiser writes: “A modernist genius, Kahn’s illustrations were endlessly inventive, often darkly comic and occasionally macabre. The 1924 drawing Travel Experiences of a Wandering Cell: In the Valley of a Flesh Wound, for example, beautifully elucidates the living landscape of blood, nerves and tissue.” – Nature is a prominent interdisciplinary scientific journal with worldwide reputation.
In the historic blower plant of Henrichs Steelworks in Hattingen, Germany, a venue of the Westphalian State Museum for Industrial Culture, visitors can see the exhibition “Arbeit zeigen” (Showing Labour) until March 23, 2014. Among the 150 objects on display is the original wall chart Man as Industrial Palace by Dr. Fritz Kahn (1926) as well as the homonymous installation by designer Henning Lederer (2009).
Westphalian State Museum for Industrial Culture (description in German)
In its online edition, Britain’s newspaper The Daily Mirror publishes a review on the monograph Fritz Kahn. Journalist Martin Newman writes: “Fritz Kahn by Uta and Thila von Debschitz collates the most interesting images from Kahn’s complete works and presents them in a large, beautifully-bound book. It highlights the ingenuity of his ideas, full of visual analogies, metaphors and topically fascinating works.”
Daily Mirror (full article)
Maria Popova, a blogger and critic living in Brooklyn, names Fritz Kahn “the little-known Godfather of Infographics”. She writes that his “influence reverberates through much of our present visual communication and today’s best infographics. … Now, visual culture powerhouse Taschen has captured the life’s work of this infographic pioneer in the magnificent monograph Fritz Kahn. … It collects and contextualizes his most influential images and essays and, above all, celebrates a boundless mind that never settled for limiting itself to a single discipline, to any one area of curiosity, to the onus and hubris of specialization that our culture so vehemently and so toxically fetishizes. … Kahn could also be considered a pioneer of interactive storytelling long before the technologies of interaction existed. He transformed the pictorial image from a static object to passively behold to an active invitation to engage, reimagine, and connect. … Above all, however, Kahn was a kind of scientific poet who enlisted the tenets of literature and the arts in making scientific ideas not only accessible but exciting. … [The monograph] is itself a miracle of human imagination, wholeheartedly recommended.” – Brain Pickings is a blog featuring Maria Popovas writing on culture, books, and eclectic subjects off and on the Internet. Popova was named by Forbes as one of the 30 most influential individuals in Media. Her work has also been spotlighted and profiled in many prominent publications such as The New York Times.
Brain Pickings (full article)
In the section “Infographic of the Day” the online version of the magazine Fast Company introduces Fritz Kahn as “grandfather of data visualization”. Kahn’s “Fairy Tale Journey on the Bloodstream”, for example, is presented as a forerunner of the popular book and tv series “Miss Frizzle’s Magic School Bus”. Editor Carey Dunne then refers to many exceptionally modern illustrations from the monography Fritz Kahn and lets Uta and Thilo von Debschitz describe some illustrations and experiences which particularly impressed them while working on the book. – Fast Company is an US-American monthly magazine focussing on technology, business und design.
Fast Company (full article)
Lifestyle magazine Business Punk mentions the new Kahn monograph on its watchlist: “No matter how eagerly the pavonine data journalists might wave their funny flow charts, the most ingenious explanatory visuals were created by Fritz Kahn, physician and prime father of information graphics in the 1920s. His work is now accessible in a hilarious coffee-table book.”
Fontblog author Jürgen Siebert says about the Fritz Kahn monograph: “In his publications, Fritz Kahn visualized the human body and other phenomena of nature so vividly that even those without scientific education could understand them. That was mainly because of his illustrations which he got made by graphic designers and artists. For this reason his oeuvre quite rightly is considered to be a pioneering achievement in information design. It is amazing what one can learn through Fritz Kahn. … The monography presents an overview over Kahn’s visual works whose multilayeredness and vividness fascinate to this very day.” Siebert invites Fontblog readers to participate in a raffle – with the chance to win a copy of the new Fritz Kahn monograph. – Fontblog is the weblog of font reseller FontShop with news from the fields of communication design and typography, 129,000 visitors generate 648,000 page impressions per month.
Fontblog (article in German)
In its art features section – headlined “Fritz Kahn: the lost pioneer of info graphics” – The Telegraph publishes a shortened version of Steven Heller’s foreword as well as five images taken from the new Fritz Kahn monograph. – The Telegraph is the online version of The Daily Telegraph, a leading British newspaper.
The Telegraph (full article)
On the Mosaik radio show on German broadcasting station WDR 3, host Daniel Finkernagel and design theorist René Spitz review the book Fritz Kahn which rediscovers Kahn as the “father of visual storytelling” and chronicles his work. To hold and “flip through the voluminous publication one will need a heavy underframe”, the pair say, but “it is worth while” since it contains “fascinating things”. Spitz describes the educational impetus of Kahn and explains the meaning of the monograph for the modern world: The current renaissance of information design is caused by a desire to understand incomprehensible circumstances. Not only does Fritz Kahn accomplish this, but the narrative information graphics also allow the reader to understand at his or her own pace. Finkernagel agrees by citing that a Berlin-based design studio explained the global financial crisis to chancellor Angela Merkel through information graphics.
Mosaik (link to audio file in German, 7:20 minutes)
In a book review on the website of the Spanish broadcasting corporation Radiotelevisión Española (RTVE), Jesús Jiménez writes about the monograph Fritz Kahn. The journalist describes the new publication as a “fascinating book” and homage to the great achievements of Kahn, which not only enthuses scientists and designers but everyone interested in the visual transformation of ideas.
rtve.es (article in Spanish)
In the one-hour news show Midori House, hosts Georgina Godwin and Phil Han talked with co-author Uta von Debschitz about the legacy of Fritz Kahn. Uta explained how the illustrations in his popular science books captured her attention and how the recent Kahn monograph was born. She described her personal favorite Kahn image, Walnut and Human Brain, and the increasing interest in his work. Godwin stated that Kahn “dramatically changed our image of ourselves”, and Han judged the Taschen volume produced by the von Debschitz siblings as a “fantastic book”. – Midori House is produced by radio station Monocle 24 from its headquarters at Midori House, London. As a round-the-clock station, Monocle 24 delivers news and comment, plus magazine shows covering a range of topics, including design and print media.
Midori House (interview starts at 40:22)
In its Books & Magazines category, Selectism recommends the new monograph Fritz Kahn. Thomas Welch states that the volume is “a must for everyone interested in the process of graphic visualization, or has any interest in a true artistic pioneer.” – Selectism is a lifestyle news website, run by independent publisher Titelmedia UG with offices in Berlin and New York City.
Referencing the new monograph Fritz Kahn, cultural editor Ronald Meyer-Arlt writes: “Fritz Kahn created infographics when the word infographics hadn’t yet been invented. (…) An opulent coffee-table book reminds of the grand simplifier.” – The Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung is a newspaper, distributed mainly in Northern Germany.
Journalist Sebastian Hofer honors Fritz Kahn in a two-page article in profil, Austria’s leading news magazine: “Fritz Kahn, physician and author of basic popular science publications in the 1920s and 1930s, dramatically changed our image of ourselves. A monograph issued on the occasion of Kahn’s 125th birthday presents his work in all its variety and ingenuity. The doctor who became a pioneer of information graphics created vivid image concepts for invisible processes: the growth of human hair, the biochemical effect of the smell of roasted meat, the impact of airwaves on the skin. … In his illustrations, he created modernist motifs in images and type.”
In its November issue, the magazine novum – World of Graphic Design devotes a two-page spread to an article about the new monograph Fritz Kahn (“an attractive compendium meticously researched”). The article presents images taken from the book (“Even now, the images have lost none of their charm”), and an interview with co-author Thilo von Debschitz about how the monograph was born.
The B.Z., Berlin’s biggest and oldest daily newspaper, recalls Fritz Kahn in an illustrated article entitled “The pioneer of the man-machine celebrates birthday”. The author, Michael Heine, points to the new Kahn monograph and writes: “The Berlin all-round genius Fritz Kahn was born 125 years ago. Many of his visions have become reality. For example, journeys into the interior of the human body, the perception of man as a machine in which individual components can be easily replaced, or continuous, real-time monitoring of patients.”
B.Z. (full article in German)
A full-page article in another leading German newspaper, DIE WELT, published in a literary supplement on the occasion of the Frankfurt International Book Fair, is dedicated to the new book on Fritz Kahn. In his review, journalist Hans-Joachim Müller writes: “A lavish illustrated volume celebrates the forgotten science author Fritz Kahn as a pioneer of information graphics. … One is almost overcome by melancholy when thumbing through the terrific book edited by Uta and Thilo von Debschitz.” He states that when Kahn explained the world to his audience, “there were no interactive bar charts, no animated PowerPoint presentations, the term ‘information graphics’ was not created yet.” He sees a certain charm in Kahn’s works, referring to earlier times when one could “narrate science as adventure”. Müller compares the work of Kahn with a “leavening agent, briskly mixed from one part futurism and two parts positivism”, which is not entirely consumed even now.
DIE WELT (full review in German, also published in “Hamburger Abendblatt”)
The popular science program “Die Profis” (The Professionals), broadcast by the Berlin-based radio station radioeins discussed Fritz Kahn and his visualizations in an eight-minute interview. After giving some basic information, presenter Stephan Karkowsky asked Uta von Debschitz about various Kahn illustrations and their historical context. The interview was conducted on the occasion of the newly issued monograph Fritz Kahn, which listeners (the first two callers at the end of the program) could win.
radioeins (mp3 of the interview in German)
The Sunday edition of the Frankfurter Allgemeine (a leading German newspaper) devotes a two-page spread to Fritz Kahn, including 11 illustrations from his books. Journalist Sonja Kastilan recalls the life of the popular science author and and his “strong sense of image”. And she refers to the new Fritz Kahn monograph: “An opulent coffee-table book – published by Taschen on the occasion of Fritz Kahn’s 125th birthday – shows how multifaceted, impressively complex, and at the same time comprehensible his depictions were.” In an interview, Uta von Debschitz explains the genesis of the new Kahn book, how the authors chose the images, and the significance of his work.
“Fritz Kahn, a forgotten genius” is the headline of a multi-page article in El País Semanal, the weekly magazine of the highest-circulation daily newspaper in Spain. The author introduces Kahn as an educator with “extraordinary imagination and boldness” who revolutionized the depiction of the human body during the 1920s. He describes how Kahn became famous, was expelled by the Nazi regime, and slid into oblivion. In a parallel thread, he tells the story of Kahn’s rediscovery by the siblings Uta und Thilo von Debschitz, who chanced upon Kahn’s illustrations, researched his life and work, and finally published a monography about him.
El País Semanal (full article in Spanish)
In her review of the exhibition “Das Erklären erklären” (Explaining how to explain) about the history of information design, journalist Laura Weissmüller writes: “Images transport information – often much more clearly than bare numbers or matter-of-fact reports. (…) New inventions and new media made the tremendous spread of information graphics possible and popular. And this new barrage of information had to become comprehensible.” As an example of the variety of information design in earlier times and how to transmit knowledge through images, Weissmüller mentions the poster “Der Mensch als Industriepalast” (Man as Industrial Palace) by Fritz Kahn (1926) which is prominently displayed in the article. In addition, she refers to the collector cards “Bilder vom Menschen” (Images of Man) developed by Fritz Kahn and delivered to the subscribers of the Berliner Morgenpost newspaper in 1931. – The exhibition “Das Erklären erklären.” is on view in the MEWO Kunsthalle Memmingen from July 13th to October 6th, 2013 and was conceived by students of the University of Augsburg. It presents the predecessors of modern info graphics. All items in the exhibition are from the collection of Prof. Michael Stoll.
In his detailed article on Fritz Kahn in The Times of Israel, Graham Lawson writes about “an innovator who merged medicine with the industrial age” whose “influence on graphic design and art is still apparent”. Lawson concludes: “For an influential but long-neglected thinker, Kahn’s return, however modest, represents part of his well-deserved due”.
“Superhuman”, an exhibition of the Wellcome Collection in London, takes a broad and playful look at our obsession with being the best we can be. Items on display range from works of art and science to objects of utility like an ancient Egyptian prosthetic toe, a Victorian dildo, and the Spanish version of Fritz Kahn’s poster “Man as Industrial Palace“.
The exhibition “Ghosts in the Machine” in the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, surveys the constantly shifting relationship between humans, machines and art. Occupying the three main galleries of the museum, the exhibition presents the dreams and nightmares of technolgy as expressed by over seventy artists, writers, and visionaries – among them Fritz Kahn’s poster “Man as Industrial Palace” in the original German version of 1926.
Uta and Thilo von Debschitz presented their book project “Fritz Kahn – Man Machine” on March 17, 2012 at the two-day Jornadas Cantianas conference in Lisbon, Portugal. Invited by cultural organization Oporto and design studio Barbara says … , the siblings reported on their exciting search for information and images that made the life and work of forgotten Jewish author Fritz Kahn visible again. The conference’s list of speakers included Prof. Olga Pombo, designer and writer Jan Middendorp, and French design legend Massin.
Oporto / Barbara says …
On February 6, Thilo von Debschitz spoke in the City of Münster, Germany, about the most important professional project of his life so far – the search for traces of Fritz Kahn. Entitled “Fritz Kahn – Pioneer in Information Design”, his lecture surveyed the forgotten author’s work. The talk included fascinating images from Fritz Kahn’s books, photos that illustrate his life story, and videos that show how his work influenced information design in the 20th and 21st centuries.
grafikdesign.ms (in German)
With a full-page depiction of the famous Fritz Kahn poster “Der Mensch als Industriepalast” (Man as Industrial Palace), the magazine of the international publishing house Taschen promotes their upcoming book Information Graphics. Edited by Sandra Rendgen and Julius Wiedemann, the book presents a historical perspective on the subject, highlighting the work of the masters of the profession who have created a number of breakthroughs that were eventually adopted as new visual ways of communication. Advice from leading professionals such as Nigel Holmes, Paolo Ciuccarelli, Richard Saul Wurman, and Simon Rodgers is also included. Following an in-depth introduction, the book presents more than 400 examples of works, each with a fact sheet and an explanation of methods and objectives. The Industriepalast by Fritz Kahn, a milestone of visual information that explains the human body, is of course part of the book, which will be available in January 2012.
The exhibition Unser täglich Brot – Die Industrialisierung der Ernährung (Our Daily Bread – The Industrialization of Nutrition) at the Technoseum in Mannheim, Germany, opens on October 28, 2011 and continues until April 29, 2012. The exhibition includes four rarely seen images from books by Fritz Kahn. For example, “Biology of a roast’s smell” or “Man eats 1400 times his own weight in 70 years”, both dated 1926. A Kahn image explaining the functions of vitamins and their impact on human organs is included in the exhibition catalogue.
In the newest edition of the US-American science journal Seminars in Nuclear Medicine Lionel S. Zuckier, MD, illustrates his guest editorial on “Image Perception in nuclear medicine” with Fritz Kahn’s “The doctor of the future“. He finds it quite remarkable, that many elements of today’s reading room were already intuited by Fritz Kahn some 85 years ago. Zuckier gives some examples, including the close integration of clinical and imaging data and the importance of 2-way synchronous methods for the diagnostic process. The only thing, which could not have been forseen by Dr. Kahn in 1925, seems to be the computer.
Seminars in Nuclear Medicine (PDF download page)
Thilo von Debschitz guided the SenseMaker Dialogs audience at Pratt Institute on a journey into history: He summarized his work on Fritz Kahn (1888–1968), whose popular science books and images he stumbled upon by mere chance. The designer von Debschitz was blown away by the communicative impact of the book illustrations, which made complex facts easy to grasp in an understandable and visually attractive way. This discovery resulted in an intense research which he conducted with his sister. In their monograph Fritz Kahn – Man Machine / Maschine Mensch, the siblings provide public access to the inspiring life and work of Fritz Kahn. At the SenseMaker Dialogs, Thilo von Debschitz not only presented an introduction to Fritz Kahn, but also discussed cognitive visual concepts by other creative thinkers, some of whom have been influenced by Fritz Kahn’s work. The lecture took place at Pratt Institute, 144 West 14th Street, New York City. – SenseMaker Dialogs is an annual speaker series organized and sponsored by Humantific. Its focus is on managing complexity, for example through innovative and sense-making methods of information delivery. Previous speakers at SenseMaker Dialogs include architect, designer, and creator of the TED conference Richard Saul Wurman, Marshall Clemens (Idiagram), and Brian Willison (Parsons Institute for Information Mapping).
SenseMaker Dialogs (on Flickr)
The may 2011 issue of the German magazine “Guter Rat” (good advice) features – among other topics – the human digestive system. A four-page article includes a summary of the famous Fritz Kahn illustration “Man as Industrial Palace”: “ … Chunks of raw material are thrown into the mouth, where grinding wheels pulverize the chunks, and a worker operates the saliva injectors. Then the mash slides down a thick pipe to the next level of digestion. Kahn’s depiction is based in reality. … Simplified, digestion can be seen as conveyor belt. Each station is responsible for a specific step in the digestion process.” The article refers to the monograph “Fritz Kahn – Man Machine” and this website. – “Guter Rat” is a monthly publication of Hubert Burda Media with a circulation of 250,000 copies.
In an article in the sience section of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, the poster »Der Mensch als Industriepalast« (Man as Industrial Palace) by Fritz Kahn is characterized again as a “highlight of the current exhibition Health for Sale” (see entry from June 21, 2011, The New York Times) and displayed in a large format. The writer describes Kahn’s book series Das Leben des Menschen (Life of Man) as “visionary” and notes that the mostly forgotten author “is increasingly rediscovered”. … – The Sunday issue of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung is published with a circulation of more than 350,000 copies.
The exhibition “Images of the Mind” (July 23 to Oct. 31, 2011) – a bi-national project of the Deutsches Hygiene-Museum in Dresden and the Mährische Galerie in Brno (Czech Republic) – examines the human mind as visual phenomena. Through selected exhibits from antiquity to presence, it analyzes the role of the image in comprehending mental skills. In addition to drawings of Leonardo da Vinci, portraits of Rembrandt or Lucas Cranach, works of Max Beckmann, Man Ray, Max Ernst, and Bill Viola as well as numerous recent neuro-imaging operations from scientific institutes, four images from Fritz Kahn books are part of the exhibition: “Das Gedächtnis als Kinematograph” (Memory as Cinematograph), “Das Nervensystem als Muskel- und Klingelleitung in ihrer fünfteiligen Übereinstimmung” (The Nervous System as Muscle and Doorbell Connection in their five-part Congruence), “Die Empfindungsbahn als Radioleitung” (Sensory Pathways resemble Radio Wires), and the famous image “Der Mensch als Industriepalast” (Man as Industrial Palace). All images are included in the exhibition catalogue.
Deutsches Hygiene-Museum (Link to museum website in German)
In the Health section of The New York Times, Abigail Zuger judges the exhibition „Health for Sale“ at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (see entry from April 1, 2011) as “georgous and fiercely funny”. The journalist writes: “… But the star of the show may be the single image intended neither to cajole nor to terrify but to educate and amuse. The five-volume anatomy and physiology textbook that the German physician Fritz Kahn brought out in the 1920s was illustrated with a poster-size folding color plate depicting ‘Man as Industrial Palace,’ a work that combines the Lilliputian charms of ‘Where’s Waldo?,’ a Willy Wonka’s factory, the world’s best dollhouse and a really good pinball game. Up in the chambers of the brain, two groups of tiny men in suits and ties deliberate around small conference tables: they are, of course, Will and Reason. Nearby a lone fellow in shirtsleeves and headphones operates a telegraph: he is Hearing, while the photographer one cubicle over is Sight. Gears move particles of food along the alimentary tract, aided by tiny workers with rakes and cauldrons of digestive enzymes. Down in Bone Marrow a solitary artisan stamps out red blood cells. It is an image begging to be animated, and the contemporary German designer Henning M. Lederer has done just that, in a short film looping alongside the actual lithograph. There is no need to travel to Philadelphia for this particular pleasure, though; Mr. Lederer’s utterly irresistible creation is online. …” – The New York Times has a circulation of 870,000 copies during the week and 1.3 million copies on Sunday (Oct. 2010).
The New York Times (complete article)
In an article in the sience section of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, the poster “Der Mensch als Industriepalast” (Man as Industrial Palace) by Fritz Kahn is characterized again as a “highlight of the current exhibition Health for Sale” (see entry from June 21, 2011, The New York Times) and displayed in a large format. The writer describes Kahn’s book series Das Leben des Menschen (Life of Man) as “visionary” and notes that the mostly forgotten author “is increasingly rediscovered”. … – The Sunday issue of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung is published with a circulation of more than 350,000 copies.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
What are the 10 favourite books of today’s leading designers? The people who operate the Designers & Books website asked famous creatives to submit their lists, and we discovered that American designer Seymour Chwast includes the monograph Fritz Kahn – Man Machine on his top-10 list. Chwast is one of the most influential illustrators and graphic designers alive; together with his partners Milton Glaser and Edward Sorel, he founded Push Pin Studios in 1954, and the studio’s distinct style has had a worldwide influence on contemporary visual communication. He now is director of The Pushpin Group. Chwast’s designs and illustrations have been exhibited in major galleries and museums in the US, Europe, Japan, Brazil, and Russia. Chwast and Push Pin were honored at the Louvre in Paris in a two-month retrospective exhibition. His posters are in the permanent collection of MoMA; the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum; the Library of Congress; the Gutenberg Museum; and the Israel Museum, among others.
Seymour Chwast’s Book List
From April 1 to July 31, 2011, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is exhibiting “Health for Sale”, a collection of antique medical- and health-related posters from the William H. Helfand Collection. One of the museum’s exhibits is “Der Mensch als Industriepalast”, a 1926 poster by Fritz Kahn that depicts the human body as a factory in cross-section. The lithograph is accompanied by a computer-animated visualization from 2009, based on the Fritz Kahn original, that shows the poster’s industrialized human-machine in motion. The visualization was planned and executed by German computer artist Henning Lederer. (The original poster and Lederer’s installation are both included in the first monograph on Kahn, Fritz Kahn – Man Machine.) The museum states that the exhibition exists to show how hygiene, medical conferences, public health campaigns, and cure-all medications were advertised in the early 20th century.
Fritz Kahn’s illustration “sunbath” is the visual teaser of “Light Therapy, circa 1939” in the online edition of The Scientist. A supplementary slide show presents additional images from the highly illustrated book Fritz Kahn – Man Machine. The article especially recommends the monograph’s numerous images and the “riveting narration revealing the mastermind behind them”. The “legendary science writer” captured “the imagination of an international audience with hundreds of wildly inventive illustrations”. – The Scientist is an award-winning news magazine focusing on biology and the life sciences.
The Scientist (complete article)
On its home page the weekly magazine DER SPIEGEL introduces Fritz Kahn with a detail of the poster “Man as Industrial Palace”. In the section “One day – contemporary histories”, Christoph Gunkel’s article “Inside the Human Machine” portrays the “body explainer Fritz Kahn”, closely following “the amazing volume Fritz Kahn – Man Machine / Maschine Mensch.” More than 20 selected illustrations give the reader a visual introduction to Kahn’s work. In just one day, the online article attracted about 1 million page impressions – a demonstration of how well Kahn’s images match the current zeitgeist.
einestages-spiegel.de (full review in German)
In its September issue, Arredamento Mimarlik, a leading magazine for architecture and design in Turkey, looks back on the TYPO 2010 conference in Berlin and focuses on the rediscovery of Fritz Kahn. The article reads, in part: “The talk by Uta and Thilo von Debschitz on Dr. Fritz Kahn pointed out how Kahn compared the human body with a machine, and how he made perfect use of metaphors. Young historians and illustrators are highly interested in this comprehensive and detailed book.”
“Furnished upper story” – referring to Fritz Kahns cross-sectional depictions of the human head and its various chambers – is the title of a two-page review by journalist Thomas Edelmann in the German magazine “designreport” (issue 1/2010). Among other observations, he notes: “He was one of the pioneers in information design in the 1920s: author and doctor Fritz Kahn. The impact of his images is based on unique analogies and layers of organic processes and technical shapes – now re-presented in a book that is unputdownable. […] Although current knowledge of our elaborately furnished brainboxes does not match the speculation of the Fritz Kahn era, his illustrations inspire us in a new manner even today.”
designreport (full article in German)
In his review entitled “Man as Industrial Palace“ Behrang Samsami features the monograph “Fritz Kahn – Man Machine”. In his conclusion he says it was “an important new release in many respects”. – Literaturkritik.de is an online magazine, reviewing new publications in fiction, literature, and cultural studies.
literaturkritik.de (full review in German)
The May 2010 issue of the special-interest magazine Orthopädie & Rheuma (Orthopaedics & Rheumatism) features a three-page article and book recommendation for Fritz Kahn – Man Machine by Dr. med. Eberhard J. Wormer. He writes: “Until recently he was the big unknown, an outdated littérateur of the 20th century. Now the enigmatic Fritz Kahn has returned to the world stage. Graphic designers discover his esthetic quality, medical historians his competence regarding content, and the media celebrates his image invention ‘Man as Industrial Palace’ … The reanimation of the long-forgotten enlightener is a great fortune.” – Orthopädie & Rheuma is published nine times a year and addresses orthopaedic specialists, rheumatologists, pain therapists, and sports-medicine specialists with a circulation of 6,500.
Orthopädie & Rheuma (complete review in German as PDF)
At the TYPO Berlin design conference, Uta und Thilo von Debschitz presented their work on the monograph “Fritz Kahn – Man Machine” and a subsequent exhibition. Entitled “Infected! The Picture Virus of Dr. Fritz Kahn”, the lecture described their research (initiated by coincidence) in Berlin, Zürich, and New York. The siblings showed selected illustrations from the rich image legacy of Fritz Kahn as well as contemporary visual reflections on Kahn. The international audience observing the presentation in the auditorium of the Haus der Kulturen der Welt responded with applause and enthusiasm; comments include: “Fritz Kahn – Man Machine is blowing my mind!” (Candy Chang, designer/USA), “Marvelous illustrations. A real information artist!” (Gloria Biber, designer/Germany), “Wonderful presentation” (Ardan Erguven, designer, writer/Turkye), “Spectacular book” (Sabine Danek, editor PAGE/Germany), “Great project” (Eike König, Designer), “Impressed by the forceful passion of Thilo and Uta von Debschitz” (Karin Schmidt-Friderichs, design book publisher/Germany),“Uta and Thilo von Debschitz performed design archeology and uncovered the magnificent works of Fritz Kahn.” (Jens Tenhaeff, photographer/Germany) – TYPO Berlin is the biggest design conference in Europe, with 1,200 attendees from all over the world. At this year’s “Passion”-themed conference, designers and creatives presented projects that were essentially inspired by fervent devotion to a particular subject.
An event at London-based auctioneer Christie’s focuses on Vintage Posters. Among the objects being auctioned in South Kensington on May 13, 2010, is “Der Mensch als Industriepalast” (Man as Industrial Palace), Fritz Kahn’s famous depiction of the human body as a factory.
Christie’s (detail page)
Tom Bieling, designer, author, and founding member of the Design Research Network, presents a book review on Fritz Kahn – Man Machine in his research blog designabilities.org. Among other comments, he writes: “The book ‘Man Machine‘ contains two aspects. … On one hand, it preserves and bestows the almost forgotten story of a German researcher’s destiny. … In addition, this historical document is contemporary in its popular science approach by showing the upcoming generations of scientists and designers the potential of various patterns of knowing and thinking.”
designabilities.orh (full review in German)
The current issue of Eye, the London-based international review of graphic design, introduces Fritz Kahn’s imagery in a four-page article. Referring to the monograph “Fritz Kahn – Man Machine/Maschine Mensch”, Eye founder Rick Poynor emphasizes the continuing impact of the illustrations: “Images that once looked futuristic, expressing the technological dreams and aspirations of their time, seem dated and even comical, measured against our own command of technology and the biosciences. But this in no way diminishes their appeal.” As examples for newer graphic design that refers to Kahn’s work, he mentions works by Eduardo Paolozzi, Fernando Vicente, and Young & Rubicam.
eye (issue 75/10)
In its literature section, the German newspaper Rhein-Zeitung published an article on the book “Fritz Kahn – Man Machine / Maschine Mensch”. It notes that Kahn’s work has been forgotten for many years. But now, an “opulent literary monument” has been erected for him by the “magnificent, visually expressive monograph”. – Rhein-Zeitung is the leading newspaper in the Middle Rhine area with a daily circulation of 200,000.
Medicine portal univadis published an elaborate interview as a special article, entitled “Fritz Kahn: a solitaire in a league of his own”, which quotes findings from the monograph “Fritz Kahn – Man Machine”. Professor Cornelius Borck, head of the institute for the history of medicine and science studies in Lübeck, Germany, emphasizes Fritz Kahn’s influence on the creation of the modern idea of mankind: Based on functional principles and structural characteristics, Kahn’s depictions are exemplary even now; his knowledge, delivered by analogies from the world of engineering, enhanced our wonder and amazement at our own bodies. Many philosophical spirits ot the times were combined in Kahn’s personality. He participated in all the radical experiences of modernization in the early 20th century. In his books, the author focused on a reconciliation between man and machine, on a “new adoption of the body out of a technical familiarity”.
univadis (full interview as PDF)
The Berliner Morgenpost publishes a 16-page special edition celebrating the 300th anniversary of the Charité (university hospital) in Berlin. On the back page a large image from the Fritz-Kahn-exhibition introduces the “events” section. – The Morgenpost, founded in 1898 and today part of the Welt-company, has a circulation of 134,000 copies and is the second-most read daily newspaper in the German capital.
The exhibition “The Essence of Things” at the vitra Design Museum (March 20 to September 19, 2010) looks at the motifs of reduction principles that have shaped design througout time and many environments. In the exhibition catalogue, co-curator Martin Hartung raises the question of man as the “measure of all things”. He writes that due to industrialization, machines began to imitate human gestures and alienated people from the world of things. Fritz Kahn stylized the machine as an allegory of the human body to “overcome the society’s alienation from material things and reconcile it with the world. For the purpose of illustrating the processes that had mechanized society, the most obvious model to present itself was the human body”. As an example, Hartung shows the Kahn image “Man as Industrial Palace”, a poster from 1926.
vitra Design Museum
German online film magazine F.LM has published an interesting double review entitled “Machine heart and heart machine” on two books with a lot in common: the monograph “Fritz Kahn – Man Machine” and a catalogue titled “Fritz Lang’s Metropolis”.
Just like the film “Metropolis”, which is celebrating a great comeback in its restored version, public interest in the work of Fritz Kahn has been revived by a new book and exhibition. The cultural influences on Fritz Kahn and Fritz Lang were derived from the same era, the Berlin of the 1920s. According to the article, Lang’s achievement in “Metropolis”, from a macro-perspective, was the same as Kahn’s achievement in the micro-perspective. The Kahn monograph analyzes his methaporical visual language, which often refers to aspects of film and cinema. Lang’s famous vision and the illustrations of Fritz Kahn are noted as “explicit milestones of European Futurism”. Just as in the machined city of Metropolis, a heart machine is central to Kahn’s body depictions, “in which little pistons are busy pumping blood through the arteries. … Kahn’s machine heart keeps the human body operational, just as Lang’s heart machine sustained the Metropolis urban compound”. Thanks to the screening of the film and the exhibition, both in Berlin, “these two artists have moved closer to each other – geographically and thematically”.
F.LM (full review in German)
The rediscovery of Dr. Fritz Kahn earned a recommendation from Deutscher Drucker magazine. The article praises the “master of visualization” and “pioneer of popular science publication whose images inspire designers and artists even today”. The result of the Debschitz siblings’ research is a “wonderfully designed book” and a “remarkable exhibition”. – Deutscher Drucker is the leading special-interest magazine of the printing and media industry in Germany as well as the official journal for executives in the association of the printing and information-processing industry.
Wolfgang Müller, artist and spokesman of the Berlin avant garde group “Die Tödliche Doris,” published a review in the daily newspaper Junge Welt. He recommends the monograph “Fritz Kahn – Man Machine” and concludes: “A beautifully designed, informative, and entertaining book that includes a critique of the life and work of Fritz Kahn. This is not a book for the science department. It is actually more appropriate for the art shelves today. It is too good for a cabinet of curiosities.” Junge Welt (Young World) is a nationwide daily newspaper with a leftist, Marxist orientation, based in Berlin. By its own account, the print version reaches around 50,000 readers, and the web site generates 3.4 million page views on average per month.
Junge Welt (full article in German)
Fritz Kahn is the subject of a three-page article by Nobert Jachertz, the long-time former chief editor of Deutsches Ärzteblatt. Reffering to the monograph “Fritz Kahn – Man Machine / Maschine Mensch” (a “perfectly designed volume”) and the Charité-exhibition (“the machine-man in exciting contrast to Virchow’s specimens”), he portrays Kahn as a representative of modernity. His method of public education, which was influenced by Futurism, could also be understood as an “art”, the author says, but in any case as an interpretation of the society of his time. Deutsches Ärzteblatt has been an official organ of the medical profession since 1872 and is distributed to all physicians in Germany. With 405,000 copies, the weekly publication is Germany’s larges- circulation medical journal.
Deutsches Ärzteblatt issue 9/2010 (full article in German)
On the Russian website of Deutsche Welle, Germany’s international broadcaster, Andrey Gorokhov reports on Fritz Kahn in two articles, one on Kahn’s biography, and the other on the exhibition in Berlin. Gorokhov calls Kahn “one of the most interesting popularizers of science”, who explained human nature with “unique and expressive images at the edge of absurdity”. The article emphasizes this by providing detailled descriptions of images such as “Man as Industrial Palace”, “Daily hair growth”, and “The performance of the heart”.
Deutsche Welle (full article 1 and full article 2 in Russian)
“An important rediscovery!” This statement opens a one-page article on Fritz Kahn in “Berliner Ärzte” (March 2010). The author describes her perception of the exhibition in the Berlin Museum of Medical History (“well integrated with the permanent exhibition”) and the monograph (“commendable book … one gets to know many interesting things about Kahn’s life and work”). In an anecdote, she also reports on the impressions that a Kahn postcard imparted to the famous psychosomatic Thure von Uexhüll. – “Berliner Ärzte” is a monthly magazine distributed to 26,000 Berlin physicians.
Berliner Ärzte (full article in German)
IL, the monthly lifestyle supplement of the leading Italian financial newspaper Il Sole 24 ORE, recommended the exhibition in Berlin. Among other comments, IL notes: “What happens when we ring a bell, smell a roast, or have an erection? Jewish intellectual and gynaecologist Fritz Kahn (1888–1968) dedicated his life to explaining the human machine and its functions. It is impossible not to see these illustrations as reflections of Weimar Modernism, not to see Kahn as a pioneer of information design. The Medical Historical Museum of the Charité – founded by Rudolf Virchow, another popular educator – honors him with [the exhibition] ‘Man Machine’, a selection of his best works.”
IL – Intelligence in Lifestyle (magazine site on Facebook)
“Extraordinary. It is not only a literary examination of cultural history, but also a survey of design history. A must see and must read!” VivArt, Spring issue 2010
he exhibition “Fritz Kahn – Man Machine” is the topic of the “Frühcafé Talk” on tv berlin. Curator Uta Debschitz, the studio guest, provdes detailed information about Fritz Kahn and the illustrations shown in the exhibition.
tv berlin (broadcast recording in German)
In his two-page article for the Frankfurter Rundschau, Felix Helberg wrote: “A monograph about Fritz Kahn, presented by the authors Uta and Thilo von Debschitz, and simultaneously an exhibition at the Berlin Charité, show how significantly Kahn’s human-mechanical images influenced modern man’s understanding of his bodily functions. […] What is left of Kahn has been gathered by the authors of this very first Kahn monograph in an enormous research achievement – a unique rediscovery. […] The flood of images reveals how modern humans discovered themselves through insights on their own functional structure, by inventing technical apparatuses. Even in their ambiguity – as the authors of this wonderful monograph summarize it – Kahn’s images visualize the limits of technical education and the promise of humanity that the faith in technical progress once implied.”
Frankfurter Rundschau (full article in German)
The FAZ dedicates half of the page titled “Research and Teaching” to a review of the exhibition Fritz Kahn – Maschine Mensch. The author describes Kahn as a “magician of popular science”, his “always surprising and often hilarious visual metaphors are disconcerting, but also fascinating.” As example, she mentions images like “Man eats 1400 times his weight in 70 years” or “daring but delicious, The radish sandwich as cerebellar model”. A large image that illustrates the congruence of the automobile and the ear was selected to illustrate the article.
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung is a leading national German newspaper, founded in 1949. It is published daily and has a circulation of about 370,000. It is the German newspaper with the widest circulation abroad, with its editors claiming to deliver the newspaper to 148 countries every day.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
“Man as Aquarium” is the title of a ten-page article about ocean lover Fritz Kahn in “mare–the magazine of the seas” (issue 78, February/March 2010). Whereas Kahn’s man-machine analogies are the focus of the Fritz Kahn monograph and exhibition, Uta von Debschitz introduces a less recognized, but particularly charming subject in this article: Kahn’s human-sea-analogies. They are illustrated with remarkable findings from Kahn’s works and correspondence, and by seven of the most beautiful maritime illustrations with unconventional original captions.
A review in the February issue of “pro care” magazine deals with the monograph “Fritz Kahn – Man Machine / Maschine Mensch”. It notes: “Kahn creates a fantastic world that shapes complex coherencies into stirring stories and makes them easy to grasp. In the 1920s, his audience appreciated that, but then the treasure became buried. Now, it might be excavated again for the general public.”
pro care (full review in German)
Fritz Kahn’s “Man as Industrial Palace” adorned the front-page of the special supplement to the 26th “Long Night of the Museums” in Berlin. The symbiosis between art and science was the main focus. Feuilleton editor Ingeborg Ruthe commented on the motif and the Kahn exhibition in the introduction:
“It was one of the most brilliant symbioses of science and art, produced by the popular science business of the Weimar Republic. Posterity ows this exemplary book illustration on ‘man machine’, which was also reproduced as a poster, to the Berlin physician and scientist Fritz Kahn. He had to flee Hitler’s Germany in 1933. Now his witty legacy has returned in a lovingly and meticulously prepared exhibition – perfect for all ages! – in the Berlin Museum of Medical History of the Charité.”
According to Ruthe the exhibition visualizes, “how a museum of medical history can have a bridge-building function, as soon as humans ask about the meaning, purpose, and consequences of their existence on earth.” More than 3,500 people visited the Fritz Kahn exhibition during today’s “Long Night of the Museums” in Berlin.
Berliner Zeitung (Caption and Text in German)
“Furnished upper story” – referring to Fritz Kahns cross-sectional depictions of the human head and its various chambers – is the title of a two-page review by journalist Thomas Edelmann in the German magazine “designreport” (issue 1/2010). Among other observations, he notes: “He was one of the pioneers in information design in the 1920s: author and doctor Fritz Kahn. The impact of his images is based on unique analogies and layers of organic processes and technical shapes – now re-presented in a book that is unputdownable. […] Although current knowledge of our elaborately furnished brainboxes does not match the speculation of the Fritz Kahn era, his illustrations inspire us in a new manner even today.”
designreport (full article in German)
“Kahn’s analogies and detailed depictions, which still influence our ideas about bodily functions, are fascinating and captivating. He creates a fantastic world that forms complex interrelations into stirring stories and in this way, makes things easy to understand. His audience in the 1920s appreciated this before this treasure was buried. Now it has been revived.”
Ärzte Woche / SpringerMedizin, issue 4/2010 (full review in German)
Luciana Christante, a freelance journalist in Brazil, publishes in her blog on science, history, and art a detailed article about the Fritz Kahn monograph and the exhibition in Berlin.
Scienceblogs (full article in Portugese)
Journalist Andreas Heinz of Neues Deutschland reviews the Fritz Kahn exhibition in an article entitled: “Was eine Wanderzelle alles erlebt” (The experiences of a wandering cell). Neues Deutschland is a nationwide newspaper based in Berlin, focusing on East Germany.
Neues Deutschland (full article in German)
The popular science program “Die Profis” (“The Pros”) short for “The Professionals” features an interview with Uta von Debschitz, curator of the exhibition “Fritz Kahn – Maschine Mensch” at the Berlin Medical Historical Museum. – Radio Eins, produced by Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg, is a leading infotainment radio station in the Berlin capital region with an average reach of 100,000 listeners per hour.
radio eins RBB (full interview as mp3 file in German)
The Berlin Museum of Medical History of the Charité (university hospital) presents the world’s first Fritz Kahn exhibition, from January 23 to April 11, 2010, entitled “Fritz Kahn – Maschine Mensch”. The exhibition under the patronage of Ulla Schmidt, the former Federal Minister of Health, is part of the series “Intervention”, which presents art in the medical context. More than 100 of the most interesting illustrations from the books by Fritz Kahn are on display.
The international edition of SPIEGEL Online reports on the exhibition “Fritz Kahn – Maschine Mensch” in an article entitled ”Exhibition Pays Tribute to 1920s Doctor – The Human Body as Factory”. – DER SPIEGEL is Europe’s leading newsmagazine, and SPIEGEL Online is the most-visited news site in Germany. SPIEGEL International brings this unique European perspective to the English-speaking world.
SPIEGEL Online International (full article in English)
”Man as a machine. – Starting next Saturday, the Museum of Medical History of the Charité in Berlin shows almost forgotten graphics and illustrations by the legendary gynecologist Fritz Kahn. From 1922 to 1931, Dr. Kahn published a five-volume book series, ‘The Life of Man‘, which became a bestseller. The series explains the complicated processes of the human body in cleverly designed display boards that portray human beings as well-functioning machines: The trachea, for example, is depicted as a branched pipeline that transports oxygen balls in an elevator. Downstairs in the liver, workers process packets of sugar and starch on an assembly line. In the head, two scientists operate an electronic control panel while a colleague in a chamber below monitors blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing. As Kahn himself was not particularly good at drawing, he had professional illustrators elaborate his drafts, including the Technical-Schematic Representation of the Male Erectile System.” – DER SPIEGEL is a German weekly magazine, published in Hamburg. It is one of Europe’s largest weekly magazines with a circulation of more than one million.
DER SPIEGEL (issue 3/2010)
Johanna Dupré, cultural journalist for the Wiesbadener Kurier, reviews Fritz Kahn’s visual language and describes how the monograph was created. In her article, “Biology of a roast’s smell”, she writes: “The reader always gets surprised by humorous image ideas and might be reminded of contemporary movements such as Cubism, Futurism, Art Déco, or – as clash between distant realities – Surrealism.” – The “Wiesbadener Kurier” is the largest newspaper in Wiesbaden, capital of the State of Hesse.
Wiesbadener Kurier (review in German)
“A humanist and educator, a visualiser of the amazing things happening inside our bodies and out, Fritz Kahn was inspiring. This book is the first monograph to be published about the German doctor and scientist who wowed the 1920s world with his book ‘Das Leben des Menschen (The Life of Man)’. In the graphic design world we’re familiar with the information design of Otto Neurath and later Edward Tufte, but here is a precursor whom we (at grafik at least) didn’t know before, but are very happy to discover through this book. There seems to be no limit to the good doctor’s imagination – there is a drawing for everything from neurological functions such as ‘What goes on in out heads when we see and say Car’ to ‘Sunbathing: the twelve effects of sunlight on the skin’ and crazier investigations like ‘Man as aquarium: it would be possible to keep seahorses in human fluid …’. These make fascinating viewing not only for their beauty as drawings but also for the light they cast on society at the time.”
grafik, The Magazine for Graphic Design, issue December 2009
étapes, the French magazine of design and visual culture, published a review of “Fritz Kahn – Man Machine” in its international (French/English) issue, December 2010. It concludes: “The scientific pedagogy they [Kahns’ images] bring forward, midway between the worlds of arts and apprenticeship, could serve as excellent flagships for visual communication.”
étapes (full review as PDF)
PAGE, Germany’s leading magazine for design, advertising, and media, praises the Fritz Kahn book in its 01/2010 issue and wonders “how discoveries like this could be possible at all”. Entitled “Inside Man”, a three-page review tells the story of how the Kahn monograph came to be and why the works of the famous popular science author remained fascinating from the 1920s until today.
In the German weblog Slanted, which focuses on typography and design, an article titled “An exceptional monograph” starts as follows: “After extensive research, Uta and Thilo von Debschitz compiled their spectacular discoveries about the life and work of Fritz Kahn in a publication. The result is an exciting monograph on the life and legacy of a man who dedicated himself to popular science theories and left behind remarkable illustrations.”
At TYPO Berlin 2010 (Passion), in addition to renowned speakers such as Carlos Segura (Chicago), Rick Poynor (London), and Oliver Reichenstein (Zurich), siblings Uta and Thilo von Debschitz will present their passionate book project on Fritz Kahn. They will explain how they became fascinated by Kahn’s inspiring work and how their fascination led to an adventurous search for documents, images, and facts.
TYPO Berlin, Europe’s premier annual design conference, will be attended by some 1200 typographers, designers, and media creatives from all over the world. For three days, leaders in the disciplines of graphics, design, media, and art will present their work and stories, augmented by lectures, roundtables, workshops, and initiatives. The conference will take place at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin, Germany, May 20-22, 2010.
TYPO Berlin 2010
In his blog on specialized books, “Immer schön sachlich“ (stick to facts), Michael Schikowski reviews the Fritz Kahn monograph. Under the title “Verblüffungsmaschine Fritz Kahn” (amazement machine Fritz Kahn), he summarizes a “wonderfully designed book” whose authors remain objective while conveying their passion for visualization. Schikowski emphasizes the original illustration “Walnut and Brain” and the sense of sight portrayed as a movie production of the mind. Referring to Kahn’s analogies, he recommends supplemental annotation to verify their real contribution to scientific understanding.
Immer schön sachlich (full review in German)
“The Moment”, the New York Times Style Magazine blog, features an article on Fritz Kahn and the monograph “Fritz Kahn – Man Machine”. Author Steven Heller explains his fascination with Kahn’s visual style in his review of the “beautiful Kahn monograph”.
The New York Times (full review)
“Uta and Thilo von Debschitz have saved the memory of a unique man who was an allrounder, an explorer, and a designer of the humanly possible in text, image, and science. If there was any justice in the world of art, Kahn would be considered as someone who almost singlehandly opened and closed a chapter of intellectual history. What a remarkable, beautiful, and inspiring book!”
“To me it’s just fascinating that at the end of the year 2009 we are interested in books from long ago. I’m thinking of the monograph ‘Fritz Kahn – Man Machine’, for example, or of ‘The Red Book’ of C. G. Jung, which was published just recently. They lead us to the conclusion that we should not forget ‘old’ people and their books but learn from them instead. As for Kahn, I found particularly interesting that he, as a gynaecologist, did not really understand women but was able to beautifully visualize the male erection. This book is fascinating – not only for sexologists.”
Dr. Ruth K. Westheimer
“That’s how medical knowledge is given to the world. This book is a lucky strike!”
Dr. Eckart von Hirschhausen