Why is there no interest in Rudolf Modley?

Page from ‘A Pictographic History of War’ by Modley, 1944

Page from A history of the war, in maps, in pictographs, in words by Modley, 1943

Helped by the rising interest in infographics, Neuraths’ Isotype has become popular in the Netherlands lately. Characteristic of this interest was a large exhibition held at the Central Museum in Utrecht in 2008. It prominently featured Isotype as a starting point for the development of a ‘visual language’.
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Book names: Modern Man in the Making / Creating the Modern Man


A study in contrasts? Searching for Neurath’s Modern Man in the Making on Google also brings up Pendergast’s Creating the Modern Man : American Magazines and Consumer Culture : 1900-1950.

Neuraths title neutrally suggest the development of mankind as shared project. It is clear that in his view modernity-accept for the heavy toll of war–is a positive development, made possible by the progress of science. People are abstract, quantifiable and can be expressed in visual statistics.

Pendergast writes about the creation of idea’s about masculinity between 1900 and 1950. Interestingly the title Creating (…) suggest a creator. It is tempting to think that Pendergast refers to ‘creation’ of ideas by corporate consumer capitalism. Instead he suggests a process that is positive in nature, in which everybody participates.

Two ideas of looking at, and studying men, one contemporary, one in retrospect. Both resulting in a similar book title and a very different cover. I am thinking about this. I can’t remember Neurath dealing with cultural issues in his statistics?

  • Thomas D. Pendergast, Creating the Modern Man: American Magazines and Consumer Culture: 1900-1950, University of Missouri Press, Columbia 2000.
  • Otto Neurath, Modern Man in the Making, Alfred A. Knopf, New York 1939.