Highlights From The Vault: Maps as Art

ArticleCheck out these highlights from April’s From The Vault: Maps as Art

April 27, 2024
673 words / 4 minutes

On April 26, we hosted From The Vault: Maps as Art! 

From The Vault is a biweekly event series showing collections objects selected by Leventhal Center staff. This week, we explored the ways in which maps use art and masterful artistry in order to tell a story through mapmaking! From the 16 century to modern day, visitors were encouraged to view the ways in which art has influenced map making since the beginning.

Belle Hornblower *Back Bay view of the world *(2017)

Illustrating the world at the top of Back Bay, the artist brings a different view to visitors’ experience. The bottom half of this picture is an aerial view of Back Bay, with the lines drawn freely using a ballpoint pen, and the colors added using water-soluble colored pencils. It makes me feel a sense of childlike wonder and imagination within this artistically rendered map. At the upper edge of the image, you can even see the Eiffel Tower and the famous Russian Orthodox Church!

Belle Hornblower View of SoWa food trucks (2016)

Portraying the world at the top of SoWa food trucks, this map was done by the same artist as the Back Bay map as shown during this event. What distinguishes this map from the one of Back Bay is the apparent use of “sticker art” technique. Many little figures seem to have been cut out from other comic books and pasted onto the map, creating an effect similar to the original medium. Again, it’s a map full of color and childlike wonder.

Belle Hornblower Jamaica Plain view of the world (2020)

Seeing the world at the top of Jamaica Plain, the artist brings a different view to visitors. In this art peace, unlike the previous maps with towering buildings and exaggerated perspective lines, this map appears less abstract. Additionally, the colors are relatively soft and muted. Continuing with the same artistic style as the previous maps by this artist, you can even see Tokyo and Canada at the top of the map.

Raúl the Third & Elaine Bay Boston kids count (2020)

Map as art; art is a way for children to communicate. Innocent and romantic character images, along with vivid color blocks, form unique maps. The cartoons expressed in an artful and playful manner can engage children’s attention and make them patient enough to explore different maps.

Frans Hogenburg Magnifica illa civitas Verona ; Colonia augusta Verona nova gallieniana (1582)

The 1582 map illustrates Verona, known as a center for art and architecture, in two views, complete with vignettes on the left, and the Arena – a remnant from the city’s importance in Roman times – on the right. Though produced before the play had even been in the drafts, the story of Romeo and Juliet was set in Verona, which would have looked near exactly the same as depicted here.

S. Orozco Acapulco, México (1980)

Feel the heat and enthusiasm of Acapulco, Mexico through this colorful map. The golden beach, blue sea, and red sailboats evoke thoughts of summer. You can just imagine enjoying the sea breeze and waves and experiencing the charm of Mexico.

Ignatz Sahula 19th annual convention of the National Association of Real Estate Boards : at Tulsa, June 7 to June 11 in 1926 (1926)

This map was created for realtors traveling to Tulsa for a national conference, aiming to provide them with visual information about the geographical features and cultural atmosphere of the area. By using bright and vibrant primary colors of red, yellow, and blue, along with interesting cartoon elements, the map presents a summer ambiance and playful characteristics, thereby capturing the audience’s attention and enhancing visual impact.

Miguel Covarrubias Art forms of the Pacific area (1940)

In this map, art is the media that connects the whole world - depicting the details of art forms from across the pacific area. through this, we can recognize the diversity of art and culture worldwide. Within this diversity, we may also observe similarities amongst the artworks or resonate with various aspects of them.

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