The Golden Age of American Pictorial Maps is an exhibition running until 3 September 2016 at the University of Southern Maine’s Osher Map Library. (If you can’t go there physically, there’s plenty online at the link, too.) “Curated by Dr. Stephen J. Hornsby, co-editor of the Historical Atlas of Maine [previously] and author of a forthcoming book on American pictorial maps, this exhibit looks at the golden age of pictorial or illustrated maps from the 1920s to the 1960s. Reflecting the exuberance of American popular culture and the creativity of commercial art, the maps are stimulating to the imagination and dazzling to the eye.” [WMS]
Ricci (1552–1610) and Verbiest (1623–1688) were both Jesuit priests, in China to spread Christianity; their maps, produced in collaboration with Chinese calligraphers, artists and printers, produced a fundamental rethinking of China’s place in the world. Not that China wasn’t at the centre of these maps, as the essays in the accompanying catalogue point out, but these maps filled out the rest of the world, which was previously a marginal afterthought in Chinese cartography.
For this exhibition, Scher has created a body of large-scale cartographic paintings focusing on the United States. Paintings as tall as seven feet depict the country swirling in torrents of information and undulating with colorful layers of hand-painted boundary lines, place names, and commentary. Different sets of data—population demographics, transportation flows, geography, and climate—are employed to make connections and establish patterns. While the information can in no way be interpreted as literal fact, the expression of it demonstrates a personalized understanding of the diversity of the United States.
Civilized Landscape was an exhibition of Ji Zhou‘s photographic art at New York’s Klein Sun Gallery. The Beijing-based Zhou merges physical art and photography in his work: “Ji Zhou collects maps, hand-sculpting them into peaks and troughs to mimic mountaintops. He includes books that are assembled into cantilevered towers resembling city skyscrapers. These ‘rural’ and ‘urban’ illusions are then photographed, further augmenting reality.” The exhibition apparently ran from September to October 2015, but the Huffington Post got hold of it this week, and it’s gone viral from there.