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The Map As Art: Contemporary Artists Explore Cartography

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Maps can be simple tools, comfortable in their familiar form. Or they can lead to different destinations: places turned upside down or inside out, territories riddled with marks understood only by their maker, realms connected more to the interior mind than to the exterior world. These are the places of artists' maps, that happy combination of information and illusion that Maps can be simple tools, comfortable in their familiar form. Or they can lead to different destinations: places turned upside down or inside out, territories riddled with marks understood only by their maker, realms connected more to the interior mind than to the exterior world. These are the places of artists' maps, that happy combination of information and illusion that flourishes in basement studios and downtown galleries alike. It is little surprise that, in an era of globalized politics, culture, and ecology, contemporary artists are drawn to maps to express their visions. Using paint, salt, souvenir tea towels, or their own bodies, map artists explore a world free of geographical constraints. Katharine Harmon knows this territory. As the author of our best-selling book You Are Here, she has inspired legions of new devotees of imaginative maps. In The Map as Art, Harmon collects 360 colorful, map-related artistic visions by well-known artistssuch as Ed Ruscha, Julian Schnabel, Olafur Eliasson, Maira Kalman, William Kentridge, and Vik Munizand many more less-familiar artists for whom maps are the inspiration for creating art. Essays by Gayle Clemans bring an in-depth look into the artists' maps of Joyce Kozloff, Landon Mackenzie, Ingrid Calame, Guillermo Kuitca, and Maya Lin. Together, the beautiful reproductions and telling commentary make this an essential volume for anyone open to exploring new paths.


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Maps can be simple tools, comfortable in their familiar form. Or they can lead to different destinations: places turned upside down or inside out, territories riddled with marks understood only by their maker, realms connected more to the interior mind than to the exterior world. These are the places of artists' maps, that happy combination of information and illusion that Maps can be simple tools, comfortable in their familiar form. Or they can lead to different destinations: places turned upside down or inside out, territories riddled with marks understood only by their maker, realms connected more to the interior mind than to the exterior world. These are the places of artists' maps, that happy combination of information and illusion that flourishes in basement studios and downtown galleries alike. It is little surprise that, in an era of globalized politics, culture, and ecology, contemporary artists are drawn to maps to express their visions. Using paint, salt, souvenir tea towels, or their own bodies, map artists explore a world free of geographical constraints. Katharine Harmon knows this territory. As the author of our best-selling book You Are Here, she has inspired legions of new devotees of imaginative maps. In The Map as Art, Harmon collects 360 colorful, map-related artistic visions by well-known artistssuch as Ed Ruscha, Julian Schnabel, Olafur Eliasson, Maira Kalman, William Kentridge, and Vik Munizand many more less-familiar artists for whom maps are the inspiration for creating art. Essays by Gayle Clemans bring an in-depth look into the artists' maps of Joyce Kozloff, Landon Mackenzie, Ingrid Calame, Guillermo Kuitca, and Maya Lin. Together, the beautiful reproductions and telling commentary make this an essential volume for anyone open to exploring new paths.

30 review for The Map As Art: Contemporary Artists Explore Cartography

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Vegan

    I adore maps, maps in books, maps by themselves, all sorts of maps. I expected to love this book. It was okay. The maps included contain many that use the term map extremely loosely. The essays are, for the most part, interesting. The maps? Well, I thought many were highly creative. I’d say I liked to loved the art of about 20%-33% of them and liked to loved maybe 50%-67% of the maps as (sort of) maps, some of them the more atypical examples. I found most of the art and text interesting. With som I adore maps, maps in books, maps by themselves, all sorts of maps. I expected to love this book. It was okay. The maps included contain many that use the term map extremely loosely. The essays are, for the most part, interesting. The maps? Well, I thought many were highly creative. I’d say I liked to loved the art of about 20%-33% of them and liked to loved maybe 50%-67% of the maps as (sort of) maps, some of them the more atypical examples. I found most of the art and text interesting. With some of the maps, my viewing experience would have been enhanced by the use of a magnifying glass but I didn’t use one. Some of the materials used are so unique, and some are also really disgusting, in my opinion. A skillful job was done of captioning the maps. There is much information in very short spaces: mini artists’ bios/background, about the artists’ inspirations, materials used, etc. Overall, this book was slightly disappointing for me, but I admit my expectations were high, probably overly high. I loved the premise more than the execution, but I did appreciate the originality shown in much of the included work. I’m glad I read/saw this book, but I’m also glad I was able to borrow a copy from the library; it’s not a book I feel the need to own. Contents: Introduction Conflict and Sorrow -Joyce Kozloff: A Geography of History and Strife Global Reckoning -Landon Mackenzie: The Politics of the Land Animal, Vegetable, Mineral -Ingrid Calame: Constellations fo Residue Personal Terrain You Are Here, Somewhere -Guillermo Kuitca: Maps of Preseeence and Absence Inner Visions Dimension/Deletion -Maya Lin: Where Opposites Meet Notes Acknowledgments I’m rounding my rating up an extra half star because (while I’m not much of an artist) this book gave me an idea for a personal project and also ideas for work with kids and therapeutic work too, and also because the book grew on me the more I read/viewed.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Linette

    I have to put this in my end file. This is one of those books that you could keep going back into and find something new every time.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Eileen

    3.5 stars I love maps and was very excited to read and see this book. Initially, however I was a little uninterested, it seemed to me to be to wordy and the language inflated. I think, for me at least, that it's difficult to look at pictures of artwork, they somehow never reach the impact there is of seeing them in person the scale is difficult to imagine, the dimension and depth are somewhat lost and more words are probably necessary to help the viewer understand the artist and their work. By 3.5 stars I love maps and was very excited to read and see this book. Initially, however I was a little uninterested, it seemed to me to be to wordy and the language inflated. I think, for me at least, that it's difficult to look at pictures of artwork, they somehow never reach the impact there is of seeing them in person the scale is difficult to imagine, the dimension and depth are somewhat lost and more words are probably necessary to help the viewer understand the artist and their work. By the time I was a third of the way in I was more involved and all in all enjoyed this book. There are many beautiful works in this book, some of them I've seen in person, Maya Lin's pieces for example, I would like to see those again and the work of many of the other artists who are included in this collection. I also now have a lot of new ideas to use in my own work about how maps can be interpreted, utilized, and presented in art.

  4. 4 out of 5

    A

    A selection of artists who use maps or the idea of mapping in their work. Maps are important as documentation, and there are many ways to look at the function of a map.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    Which comes first, the territory or the map? “A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at.” --O.W. Lars Arrhenius Jonathan Callan Carl Cheng João Machado Mairele Neudecker Yukinori Yanagi

  6. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    I had stumbled across this book while browsing through Amazon, and picked it up solely based on my interest in the topic. This can be dangerous, as art books can vary wildly in quality - sometimes, as The Map as Art makes clear, swinging to both extremes within the same book. The Map as Art's biggest success is in its diversity - it collects a stunning array of artists, in terms of material engagement, thematic/conceptual concerns, and cultural/ethnic background. The map is a marvelously potent I had stumbled across this book while browsing through Amazon, and picked it up solely based on my interest in the topic. This can be dangerous, as art books can vary wildly in quality - sometimes, as The Map as Art makes clear, swinging to both extremes within the same book. The Map as Art's biggest success is in its diversity - it collects a stunning array of artists, in terms of material engagement, thematic/conceptual concerns, and cultural/ethnic background. The map is a marvelously potent image and/or concept - perhaps because maps are nigh ubiquitous, but actually pinning down what makes something a map is difficult to pin down (indeed, a few of the included artists seem to stretch the definition to near breaking point). This ambiguity allows for a marvelous range of forms. One of the most pleasantly surprising bits of diversity in the book, though, is the range of prominence of the selected artists, from art-world stars (William Kentridge, Vik Muniz, Maya Lin, Olafur Elliason, and Ed Ruscha) to virtually unknown artists. The problem with The Map as Art, as is so often the case with these books, is in the exposition. The accompanying text is often banal in its analysis of the pieces - the extended segments on a few of the artists rarely, if ever, providing any insight into the meaning or construction of the piece. Worse, at times the text even seemed to contradict itself, such as in these lines: "For Geographia, Thib printed fragments of early maps of Canada onto a pair of white kid gloves, similar to gloves genteel British ladies might have worn to tea at the time the maps were made. The artist suggest that mapping swaths of uncharted wilderness for Queen and empire is dirty work, not for dainty hands." Unless the artist is working with a kind of arch-irony, the dainty lady-gloves would seem to me to suggest exactly the opposite. Ultimately, the book is a wonderful reference for any artist or map-lover. Just do your best to avoid the text.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kris

    "Geographers submit to a tacit agreement to obey certain mapping conventions, to speak in a malleable but standardized visual language. Artists are free to disobey these rules. They can mock preoccupation with ownership, spheres of influence, and conventional cultural orientations and beliefs." (p. 10) "Creative geographer and author Denis Wood writes, "Map artists...claim the power of the map to achieve ends other than the social reproduction of the status quo. Map artists do not reject maps. Th "Geographers submit to a tacit agreement to obey certain mapping conventions, to speak in a malleable but standardized visual language. Artists are free to disobey these rules. They can mock preoccupation with ownership, spheres of influence, and conventional cultural orientations and beliefs." (p. 10) "Creative geographer and author Denis Wood writes, "Map artists...claim the power of the map to achieve ends other than the social reproduction of the status quo. Map artists do not reject maps. They reject the authority claimed by normative maps uniquely to portray reality as it is, that is, with dispassion and objectivity." " (p. 13) "Artists chart singular perceptions rather than assert meaning for any collective truth." (p. 15) [These are map artists, not cartographers per se.]

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kerfe

    This book is all about the visuals--contemporary artists using mapping as a starting point for their work. Whether city or landscape, body or mind, real or invented, interior or exterior, photographic or abstracted, "maps are always subjective representations of the world." A multitude of approaches, with some wonderful and unexpected results. Among my favorites: Charles Ross's "Star Maps", the Bambanani Women's Group "Body Maps", the aboriginal songline maps, Ian Hundley's quilt map, Chris Kenny This book is all about the visuals--contemporary artists using mapping as a starting point for their work. Whether city or landscape, body or mind, real or invented, interior or exterior, photographic or abstracted, "maps are always subjective representations of the world." A multitude of approaches, with some wonderful and unexpected results. Among my favorites: Charles Ross's "Star Maps", the Bambanani Women's Group "Body Maps", the aboriginal songline maps, Ian Hundley's quilt map, Chris Kenny's circular assemblages of map pieces, Liza Phillips' painted sand photos, Peter Clark's "Cartographic Wardrobes", Jan Ingram Allen's plant-based site maps, and Emma Johnson's "Matrix". Really, it's all good: provocative and inspiring.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Mishap

    While I don't have a "shelf" for art books on Goodreads or in my home, I thought this would be ab interesting look-see, especially for Tracy can be captivated by maps. The artists range across mediums (and talent). The works range from altered maps, photos of conceptual works, paintings of the place on a map where the U.S. has bombed someone (66 paintings so far, included the Philadelphia police bombing of MOVE shown in the book), to some wacko who mapped her sweat, converted it into rainfall sta While I don't have a "shelf" for art books on Goodreads or in my home, I thought this would be ab interesting look-see, especially for Tracy can be captivated by maps. The artists range across mediums (and talent). The works range from altered maps, photos of conceptual works, paintings of the place on a map where the U.S. has bombed someone (66 paintings so far, included the Philadelphia police bombing of MOVE shown in the book), to some wacko who mapped her sweat, converted it into rainfall statistics and then mapped them on a 2-D globe. Everything that lowlife production units like me hate about pretentious art is in here, but I like looking at the pictures.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Zioluc

    Le mappe e la cartografia nei lavori degli artisti contemporanei. Di ciascun autore son presentate da 2 a 5 opere, per la maggior parte realizzate tra il 2000 e il 2008. C'è di tutto, dalle mappe di posti inventati a quelle di aspetti intimi dell'artista, dall'impegno sociale e politico al gioco alla pura estetica. Per chi è patito di mappe, un vero piacere da sfogliare pagina dopo pagina. I miei preferiti probabilmente sono Ingo Gunther con i suoi globi tematici e le città di fantasia fatte di Le mappe e la cartografia nei lavori degli artisti contemporanei. Di ciascun autore son presentate da 2 a 5 opere, per la maggior parte realizzate tra il 2000 e il 2008. C'è di tutto, dalle mappe di posti inventati a quelle di aspetti intimi dell'artista, dall'impegno sociale e politico al gioco alla pura estetica. Per chi è patito di mappe, un vero piacere da sfogliare pagina dopo pagina. I miei preferiti probabilmente sono Ingo Gunther con i suoi globi tematici e le città di fantasia fatte di latta e oggetti trovati di Kingelez, ma c'è l'imbarazzo della scelta!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    A lovely book with several strange, endearing, and mind-boggling interpretations of maps. My favorites included: -Clothing maps of Corriette Schoenaerts -Ai Weiwei's "World Map" -Mail art maps of Harriet Russell and Peter Dykhuis -The brutally simple and arresting map of the equator by Adriana Varejao -Altered book maps by Jonathan Callan and Mariele Neudecker -and my favorite, hands-down: the amazingly brilliant steamroller that maps Los Angeles on a beach by Carl Cheng.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    A fascinating overview of the use of cartography in contemporary art. The artists range from the well known and internationally famous to self taught artists who share their work on-line or in the coffee shop where they work. All of them use maps, spacial representations of journeys, atlases and/or globes in their artwork. A diverse collection of works and media are shown. The accompanying essays provide additional information about specific artists.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ralph McEwen

    Interesting art works. I recommend using a magnifying glass for see some of the finer details. I found several of the pieces very interesting and would like to see them in person. Most are abstracts which I never seem to get, my failing not the artists. Over all a book well worth the time to read or at least look at the pretty pictures.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    There were some beautiful pieces and some silly ones, but overall I appreciated like 90% of the artists showcased in this book. I have an odd affection for maps though. Some of these aren't maps in the strictest of sense. I'll have to re-read it, as I only read the bits that seemed the most interesting. Quality book. If I saw this in a used book store, I would totally buy it.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Du

    great book to browse. not the type of book you learn anything from, more of a sit back and flip thorough, and enjoy the art. I would have liked some more introduction or explanation I'd infatuation on some of the maps.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Serena

    A map always represents a sort of longing for me, and this book delivers both the factual and imaginative sides to that longing. The art is stunning, all sorts of medium, style, and scope are represented.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    Although some of the text was a little convoluted, the art pieces were amazing. It seems like a pretty comprehensive work on most current artists who work with maps and space. I can only hope that art continues to go into this direction so more books like this will emerge.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Allen

    Working in GIS, I see a lot of boring maps. This book had anything but boring maps. It was nice to see how artful a map can be. It was actually quite inspiring. My only complaint about the book is that I would have liked to see more maps that are both artful and useful.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tony

    Delightful and varied; dad and son carving a globe, a map of Europe in clothes with a real boot for Italy, a 3 dimensional crime map of London with peaks to represent statistics. A fine browse though it would be great to see the full-size maps for the details.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kris McCracken

    A collection of work from contemporary artists who have utilised the idea of the map to express their vision. Using paint, food, salt, souvenir tea towels, nude bodies, and a whole lot more, you can see how artists have been able to explore a world free of geographical constraints. B-.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    Fascinating, wide-ranging look at the junction of art and cartography. Some political, some touching, some beautiful.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    An excellent collection of map-themed and map-inspired artwork in a vast variety of styles/mediums. Amazing creativity on display.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    I want to marry this book! :)

  24. 5 out of 5

    Althea

    Finished the day of New Years Eve, some very cool ideas and views!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    Art inspiration book with many formats of map as art. I loved the illustrations and the stories about the artists and their work,

  26. 5 out of 5

    Brenda B

    Such a beautiful book. Excellent read for map-addicts and art lovers. Inspiring.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Callista

    It was okay, a lot of cool concepts, but nothing that struck me too much visually. The crime map of London was the most striking and interesting, in my opinion.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kati Stevens

    Much of the text is surmising this and reading too much into that, and some of the "maps" are a stretch, but a beautiful book and heavily sprinkled with great finds.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Erik Moe

  30. 5 out of 5

    Alina

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