Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Archives of the Planet - The Wonderful World of Albert Kahn

In 1909 French millionaire Albert Kahn embarked on an ambitious project to create a colour photographic record of the peoples of the world. Kahn used the new autochrome process, the world's first user-friendly,
true-colour photographic system as the medium for his still photography. Kahn send photographers to more than fifty countries around the world and they took the earliest known colour photographs in countries such as Vietnam, Brazil, Norway, Japan and Mongolia. They documented in true colour French soldiers in World War 1 as well as the collapse of both the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires. The collection known as Albert Kahn's "Archives of the Planet" is comprised of  100 hours of film and more than 72,000 Autochromes!

All images copyright Musée Albert-Kahn

Imprisoned woman, Mongolia 1913


French soldier WW1

Paris 1909


Claddagh women 1909

Japan 1912
Because of the Wall Street Crash and financial ruin in 1931 Kahn was forced to bring his project to an end. He died in 1940. His legacy, still kept at the Musée Albert-Kahn in the grounds of his estate near Paris, is now considered to be the most important collection of early colour photographs in the world.

You can learn about these magnificent images thanks to the BBC documentary "The Wonderful World of Albert Kahn". The images can be seen at the the Musée Albert-Kahn, 10-14 Rue du Port, 92100 Boulogne-Billancourt, France

Albert Kahn through photography wanted to promote peace and a greater understanding among peoples. The Archives of the Planet is indeed a gift to the world.