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5 KAHN’S TAKE AWAY CONCEPTUAL SCIENTIFIC ILLUSTRATION’S ICONOPHILIC DIASPORA OUTSIDE WEIMAR: DER MENSCH’S GLOBAL ITINERARY We’re tempted to treat Kahn as a made-­ in-­ Weimar story, or after 1940 as Weimar transplanted to America. But over the course of the twentieth century, his images and influence traveled far and wide. Kahnian pictures appeared all over the world, and Kahn’s works were translated into French, Dutch, Spanish, Indonesian, Italian, Greek, Chinese, Hungarian, Danish, Farsi, Turkish, Czech, Swedish, Russian, and other languages.1 The most circulated image was “Der Mensch als Industriepalast.” Early on, Kahn and his publishers recognized its commercial potential . Authorized versions appeared in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, and English.2 It also appeared, in unauthorized versions, copied or redrawn with slight or significant modifications, in poster or other formats, or recast into something very different, with or without the modernist gloss that Kahn’s artist Fritz Schüler supplied.3 Take, for example, a panel of a 1933 poster printed in Shanghai, as part of a series of health and hygiene posters (Plate 10).4 It is not a direct translation of Kahn’s 1926 poster but “Der Mensch als Industriepalast” reimagined by a Chinese artist. At the time, a small number of Chinese were traveling to Europe or America to study Western science, technology , and culture, and were bringing materials back to China. At the same time, Western printed material was entering into China through 134 | KAHN’S TAKE AWAY the European-­ dominated “concessions.” After the Nazis came to power in the 1930s, German refugees, many of them Jews, flooded into Shanghai’s international settlement and other concessions. Did they bring “Der Mensch als Industriepalast” with them? Or did the activists of the Shanghai Physiology and Hygiene Association see the poster in an English-­ language version? (American missionary and secular health workers then were active in China, participating in projects to help modernize Chinese medicine and health practices, through direct provision of care, training programs and well-­ publicized exhibitions and poster campaigns.)5 Unlike “Der Mensch als Industriepalast,” the Shanghai poster pre­ sents a double figure: an anatomical man stares at, perhaps studies, his industrial counterpart. It was made at a time when Chinese nationalists and socialists alike were adopting the rhetoric and methods of public health, personal hygiene, and scientific medicine. They believed that China, pressed by the Western powers and Japan, must modernize by turning to Western practices, ideas, and technologies. That meant the development of heavy industry, the adoption of Western forms of governance and education, and programs to implement Western nutritional science, hygienic practices, mass vaccination, and fitness regimes. To be a modern economic and military power, the Chinese people had to be made healthy and strong. And poster and pamphlet campaigns were seen as vital modern methods of educating the public. In the body factory panel, the anatomical figure, a muscleman, exercises with a weight with his right hand as he demonstrates a powerful grip with his left. The parallel industrial figure has cranes in the place of arms, designed for a construction project: building the self, building the nation. One crane lifts an I-­ beam; the other is equipped with a steel claw that can grasp building materials. (“Der Mensch als Industriepalast,” in contrast, has no arms; the figure only does the internal work of manufacturing himself.) “Der Mensch als Industriepalast” is revised, consciously or unconsciously, to make it distinctively Chinese. The color scheme is redone so that yellow and red dominate; the face of the anatomical figure is given Chinese features ; and the respiratory system is equipped with a Chinese accordion bellows. The Shanghai panel is less complexly industrial, less synoptic, than “Der Mensch als Industriepalast.” It only lightly suggests that the body is electrical and chemical in character (these themes are taken up more fully in other panels and posters in the series). In Europe and America, early adaptations of “Der Mensch als Industriepalast” tended to follow Kahn more closely. A 1932 American school encyclopedia, The Volume Library, flips the profile and slightly modifies the body outline.6 The Miracle of Life, a late-1930s British popular science volume, more deeply under the Kahnian influence, has several body factory figures, a “form suited to an essentially mechanical age.”7 Two of them are based on “Der Mensch als Industriepalast,” following the concept closely, but reconceived. The profile is divided in FIGURE 5.1. An unauthorized Soviet “Der Mensch als Industriepalast”: “Man [as...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781452915777
Related ISBN
9781517900212
MARC Record
OCLC
956584181
Pages
272
Launched on MUSE
2017-04-07
Language
English
Open Access
No
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