Fritz Khan’s painting Der Menschen als Industriepalast in dreamy animation

Fritz Khan's painting Der Menschen als Industriepalast in dreamy animation

Fritz Kahn’s Der Menschen als Industriepalast by Henning Lederer.

Physician. Popular science writer. Creative Director. Educator. Humanist. Visionary. Polymath.

Fritz Kahn combined industrial and mechanical functionality with the working wonders of the human body. Fritz Kahn was a genius who’s work laid undiscovered for many years. Until a curious curator Uta Von Debschnitz unearthed them.

Kahn was a prominent Berliner who did well for himself during the  period between WWI and WWII. As a trained medical practitioner and microbiologist, he  was fascinated by medical illustration as a communication medium for explaining medicine to laypeople. He was excited by the complex possibilities of the human body. From his own studio he guided a team of illustrators and produced surreal and timeless illustrations that intersected between medical and industrial perspectives.

Kahn was outspoken about Fascism and  growing Nazi unrest in the period before WWII. Consequently Kahn’s work was burned and vanished during this period and his reputation as a titan of medical illustration vanished along with it.

“Windfall fruits are ideally packaged so that they do not get ­damaged when they hit the ground. The way a walnut is packaged is the same as for a man’s brain: (a) core/brain, (b) soft core skin/meninges, (c) hard core skin/meninges with vertical and horizontal walls, (d) hard shell/bone layer, (e) fruit husk/skin layer.” 1939, © Fritz Kahn
The act of chewing “A set of teeth is a tool chest containing various different implements. The incisors (a) cut the food, (b) the canines perforate it, (c) the carnassials saw through it and the molars (d) grind up the crumbs. The tongue converts the food broken up by the teeth into mush; it is covered with papillae shaped like clubs, rollers, graters and brushes.” 1939, © Fritz Kahn
“Technical-schematic representation of the male erection system.” 1939, © Fritz Kahn

That was until the past decade, when art enthusiasts and siblings Uta and Thilo von Debschnitz collated a landmark collection of Kahn’s work for publisher Taschen. Suddenly the world rediscovered the magic of Fritz Kahn, the godfather of infographics and medical illustration. Find out more about the von Debschnitz book and the great man himself.

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