Albert Kahn’s Incredible Archives of the Planet

The Dawn of the Color Photograph — Albert Kahn

It is startling to see the world of one hundred years ago in color, and doing so seems to bring us much closer to the subjects of Albert Kahn’s Archives de la Planéte. From 1908 until the 1920’s, Kahn sent teams of photographers around the World to record the cities, countryside, and lives of the people who lived there — from London, to Brazil, to Mongolia. The resultant collection of more than 72,000 Autochromes, a pioneering color photographic process employing dyed potato starch granules, brings to life a time when national or even local dress was an essential component of personal identity, and the way of life was more often than not one of deprivation and endurance. The Dawn of the Color Photograph, published by Princeton University Press, brings together a tantalizing selection of this remarkable treasure trove of the soft, grainy, and subtly colored images that Kahn has left us. Images that will haunt you and which will draw you into the faraway lives and times they capture.

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