Maps As Art

“There has always been art in cartography.  Maps by definition are utilitarian.  Cartographers have long known that deploying artistic skills and techniques can enhance a map’s effect.  Now the relationship between maps and art has swung around; artists are using maps to further their artistic purposes.  Artists have found in cartography a rich vein of concepts and imagery to mine.”  -Katharine Harmon, The Map as Art: Contemporary Artists Explore Cartography

Contemporary art is constantly challenging the norm and redefining the boundaries of what is considered art. These boundaries have been stretched to include maps as an outlet for artistic expression.  Art has always existed within the realm of mapmaking, however, contemporary artists have only recently begun to include maps in the realm of fine art, altering the concept of maps as a utilitarian medium.  With artistic details no longer relegated to the periphery, the entire map becomes a work of art, ushering in new ways of visual representation and rethinking the use of color. Fine art maps are not subject to the limitations of traditional mapmaking rules. Color can mean anything and can, quite literally, be all over the map. Scale and precision fall by the wayside while other map techniques hold strong, resulting in a work that is strangely beautiful and familiar, though it might not get you exactly where you’re trying to go.

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The Future of Colorants