DAS LEBEN DES MENSCHEN Eine volkstümliche Anatomie, Biologie, Physiologie und Entwicklungsgeschichte des Menschen. Band 1 - [Band V]. Stuttgart, Kosmos, Gesellschaft der Naturfreunde, Geschäftstelle: Franckh’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1922, [1924, 1926, 1929,
1931]. Five volumes, 4to; I. pp. viii, 272, with 20 plates on ten leaves (one coloured); II. pp. vi, 364, with 36 plates on 18 leaves (of which 4 coloured), with three advertisements loosely inserted; III. pp. vi, 364, with 35 plates on 23 leaves (of which one double-page, and 20 coloured), and with slip pasted in at p. 111, plate XII somewhat browned; IV. pp. viii, 335,  with 33 plates on 20 leaves (of which one double-page, three folding, and 12 coloured), with one advertisement slipped in; V. pp. viii, 267, , with 23 plates on 15 leaves (of which 13 coloured, and one with an overlay), with two advertisements loosely inserted, and with large folding chromolithograph plate printed by Fricke & Co., ‘Des Mensch als Industriepalast’ 98 x 49cms, housed within pocket at rear, together with accompanying 12pp pamphlet ‘Des Mensch als Industriepalast’, and a further folding plate ‘Stammbaum des Menschen’, and a pair of 3-D glasses to be used with plates IX and X; some occasional light foxing and browning through all volumes due to paper quality, with some occasional light marginal dampstaining, but otherwise generally clean and crisp; an appealing set in the original blue publisher’s cloth, with title in blind on upper cover, and spines lettered in gilt, spines all slightly sunned, with some light rubbed to head and tails of spines and to joints (more noticeably Vols I. & II.), covers all a little sunned and foxed, extremities lightly rubbed. A fine set, all in first edition, of this copiously illustrated five volume work on the inner workings of the human body, published over a decade by the noted German gynaecologist and science author Fritz Kahn (1888-1968), and unusually retaining the original famous anatomical wall chart, ‘Der Mensch als Industriepalast’ or the ‘Human Industrial Palace’, as well as the pair of 3D glasses to be used with plates IX and X in the final volume.
Kahn developed a sophisticated graphic analogy between anatomy and machinery. His modernist visualization of the digestive and respiratory system as “industrial palace”, really a chemical plant, was conceived at the height of Weimar Germany’s rapid and advanced industrialisation, in conjunction with the artistic experimentation of the Bauhaus and Dada movements. The resulting illustrative style remains as evocative today as it was nearly a century ago. ‘Das Leben des Menschen’ or ‘The Life of Man’, was published between 1922 and 1931, using ‘visual metaphors drawn from industrial society - assembly lines, internal combustion engines, refineries, dynamos, telephones, etc. The body in Kahn’s work was “modern” and productive, a theme visually emphasized through his use of modernist art styles. Though his books sold well, his Jewishness and public advocacy of progressive reform made him a target for Nazi attacks’ (Sappol, Dream Anatomy, p. 144). “Prolonged by the inflation crisis of 1923 and the economic depression at the end of the 1920s, but also by the difficulties of containing the increasingly extensive material in the initially planned volumes, the book finally amounted to more than 1,600 pages, with the last of its fifty binders issued and distributed in 1931, a decade after the start of the project. More than a thousand illustrations were included in the five volumes, and almost 150 colour plates” (Borck, "Communicating the Modern Body", Canadian Journal of Communications). Kahn continued to publish, relocating to Palestine and Paris before escaping to the USA with the help of Albert Einstein.
‘In 1951, an example of [Kahn’s] poster was selected by Barbara Jones to feature in her exhibition of popular art at the Whitechapel entitled ‘Black Eyes and Lemonade’. Eduardo Paolozzi is understood to have visited the exhibition and viewed Kahn’s print. Paolozzi later produced the series “Secrets of Life - the Human Machine and How it works” which was inspired by the graphic works of Fritz Kahn’ (Christies Sale 9935, lot 132, 2013). It was presumably at this stage that it came to the attention of Adam Rouilly & Company, the famous London manufacturers of medical teaching aids, and who published their own version of the chart. It was to later inspire in 2006 the German artist Henning Lederer to create an interactive and animated installation based upon the poster.
The first three volumes went through a number of editions, Kahn taking the opportunity to revise the works as subsequent volumes were published, amending some of the images included. Having previously now held a couple of sets, it would appear that even the later editions also include some variations, predominantly in the number of coloured images included - suggesting once again constant revision by Kahn.
A copy of the famous image made $3750 in the Dean Edell Anatomy as Art sale, (Christies, October 5th, 2007, lot 224). Another realised £3750 at the Out of the Ordinary Sale (CSK September 5th, 2013, lot 132). The imprints also display some variants, with the present example reading: ‘Aus Kahn, Das Leben des Menschen/Franckh’sche Verlagshandlung, Stuttgart/Offsetdruckerei Fricke & Co. Stuttgart’ (the Edell example read ‘Beitrage zu Kahn, Das Leben des Menschen/Franck’schen Verlagshandlung, Stuttgart).