Maps As Art

For my final post on patriotic symbols, I think we’ll look at maps in art.

Possible classroom Concepts: Social Studies – Symbols, Geography

Possible Art Concepts: Art History – Jasper Johns, Nam June Paik, Charlotte Potter

Conceptual Art, Cameos, Profile

The maps we are about to see probably wouldn’t make a cartographer very happy. You see none of these maps will help you chart any destination. After the invention of the camera, artists were freed up from the job of documenting history and were allowed to explore themes from a more intellectual point of view. This is called conceptual art.

We’ll begin with maps by Jasper Johns. You may be saying to yourself, “His name sounds familiar!” That’s because I just talked about him in my last post. Remember, he experimented with many ways of creating the American Flag. Well, it just so happens that he did the same thing with the U.S. map. He created it with paint and stencils here:

and prints here:

(Yes, Johns is still repeating images!)

Find a video about the painting “Maps” here:

Nam June Paik was a Korean immigrant who came to the United States in 1964. He was influenced by the many neon signs and flashing images he saw while traveling U.S. super highways. He used unusual modern materials to create a room sized U.S. Map. Check the map out here:

Surprise!!!! I’d say that’s the only way to see it, unless you get to see it in person. Read more about his map, the artist, and a project idea at this site:

I ran across the following piece while visiting the Chrysler Museum this spring. Contemporary artist, Charlotte Potter, created cameos of all her Facebook friends’ profile pictures and placed them on a wall in the approximate geographic area she first met them. Can you see the general outline of the U.S. and Alaska?

I think that I can see  the outline of Texas and Maine.

Charlotte Potter talks about this work and her childhood in this video:


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