Assoz.-Prof. Benjamin Benus

December 1st until February 28th, 2020/21

Affiliation: Loyola University New Orleans

Research for a study about:

Augustin Tschinkel, Walter Pfitzner, and the Vienna Method in Central Europe after 1934


Otto Neurath’s “International Picture Language” in National and Regional Contexts, 1935–1960

Organizer: Österreichisches Gesellschafts- und Wirtschaftsmuseum   gemeinsam mit Institute Vienna Circle und Department of Philosophy

Date:  February 11, 2021

Time: 3–5pm (CET)

Online Plattform: Moodle Collaborate| Talks in Philosophy of Science and Epistemology PSE

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Together with Österreichisches Gesellschafts- und Wirtschaftsmuseum


With the closing of the Gesellschafts- und Wirtschaftsmuseum in Wien in 1934, museum director Otto Neurath and his team of collaborators sought out new opportunities to continue their work with Isotype—the “international picture language” that they had developed over the preceding decade in the museum’s exhibitions and publications. While Neurath pursued his work in visual education through successor organizations in the Netherlands and the U.K., Augustin Tschinkel and Walter Pfitzner (both former members of the Vienna museum’s design team) remained in Central Europe, where they promoted Isotype well into the postwar years. Their respective contributions during this period included several landmark works of pictorial statistics—among them, Tschinkel’s national atlas of the First Czechoslovak Republic (1935) and Pfitzner’s regional atlas of the state Salzburg (1955). With these later works, Tschinkel and Pfitzner continued to carry out Isotype’s fundamental objective of making specialized scientific information accessible to general audiences; however, these “homeland” atlases also advanced narratives which departed in key respects from the universalizing aims that Neurath had so frequently articulated for Isotype. In comparing Tschinkel and Pfitzner’s atlases with their earlier work at the Gesellschafts- und Wirtschaftsmuseum, this talk will examine how Neurath’s former associates adapted Isotype within different national and regional contexts after 1934. These later adaptations, moreover, may serve to illuminate some of the challenges that complicated the notion of an “international picture language” from the start.