The Map as Art

A map is most often understood as a directional devise to help you navigate from Point A to Point B. Author Katherine Harmon has spent years collecting maps, but instead of heading to gas stations around the country, she's taken a less-traveled path of finding artists who use maps as inspiration for their works as well as maps of their own interpretations. She's complied her findings in the new book The Map as Art, on sale November 4.
 

<i>The Map as Art: Contemporary Artists Explore Cartography</i> by Katerine Harmon, Published by the Princeton Architectural Press
The Map as Art: Contemporary Artists Explore Cartography by Katerine Harmon, Published by the Princeton Architectural Press

Published by the Princeton Architectural Press, The Map as Art is Harmon's second book that looks at the way artists interpret space and place. Her first book, You Are Here, was published by the PA Press in 2003 and included 172 works. The new book features 360 images--a number quite fitting as the book highlights artists from around the world, including Chris Johnson, Maya Lin, Olafur Eliasson, and many others. Three of my favorites in the book: Chris Kenney, Alberto Duman, and Carl Cheng.

Works by Chris Kenny in <i>The Map as Art: Contemporary Artists Explore Cartography</i> by Katerine Harmon, Published by the Princeton Architectural Press
Works by Chris Kenny in The Map as Art: Contemporary Artists Explore Cartography by Katerine Harmon, Published by the Princeton Architectural Press

Chris Kenney is a British artist who began his career as a painter but today focuses mostly on collage and other constructions, which he calls "three-dimensional drawing." Harmon features four of Kenney's works in The Map as Art, three of which are shown in this page from the book. Completed in 2007, these three "maps" are composed of pieces of other maps that he then assembled together to create a new composite maps.

Alberto Duman's <i>View of the Tate Modern, London</i> in <i>The Map as Art: Contemporary Artists Explore Cartography</i> by Katerine Harmon, Published by the Princeton Architectural Press
Alberto Duman's View of the Tate Modern, London in The Map as Art: Contemporary Artists Explore Cartography by Katerine Harmon, Published by the Princeton Architectural Press

Alberto Duman is an Italian artist living and working in London. Duman works primarily in photography and photo manipulation and for one series of work, he took photographs of different sights in London and then replaced the elements in the images with words describing what was originally there. Harmon selected Duman's View of the Tate Modern, London to include in the book. Replacing the image of the Tate Modern and its suroundings, most labels are simple nouns--"cloud," "barge," and so on--but Duman added his own editorial voice, with the text about the "river cleaning barge" that reads: "I eat rubbish! This device restores vitality to the Thames by collecting 40 tonnes of rubbish every year that's equivalent to 800,000 plastic bottles". It's a parred-down yet eye-opening way to look at a place.

The Santa Monica Art Tool by Carl Cheng in <i>The Map as Art: Contemporary Artists Explore Cartography</i> by Katerine Harmon, Published by the Princeton Architectural Press
The Santa Monica Art Tool by Carl Cheng in The Map as Art: Contemporary Artists Explore Cartography by Katerine Harmon, Published by the Princeton Architectural Press

One of my favorite images is that of Carl Cheng's Santa Monica Art Tool. Born and raised in California, Cheng is an artist whose work has often focusedon public pieces and creating his own tools to make art. For the Santa Monica Art Tool, which he made in 1988, Cheng created a giant roller set with two-inch-scale inverse 3D plates that print a map of Los Angeles in the sand when pulled along the beach. Though no longer in regular use, it still sits on the sand as sculptural piece next to the Santa Monica Pier.

Noriko Ambe's <i>Flat File Globe 3A Red Version</i> featured in <i>The Map as Art</i> and on view at the Museum of Art and Design's <i>Slash: Paper Under the Knife</i> exhibit.
Noriko Ambe's Flat File Globe 3A Red Version featured in The Map as Art and on view at the Museum of Art and Design's Slash: Paper Under the Knife exhibit.

In early October, the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City opened the paper art exhibit Slash: Paper Under the Knife. The show runs through April 4, 2010, and features works created by cutting, burning, tearing, or otherwise altering paper, including several pieces by artists included in Harmon's book (such as Eliasson and Noriko Ambe). If you can't make it to MAD before the show closes, you can view objects from the exhibition of the museum's website.

 

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