No list of aesthetically pleasing maps would be complete if every once in a while we didn’t delve into the purely artistic form. Maps are, after all, beautiful objects in their own right and ignoring their possible function as tools for communication they perform a function as a piece of visual art. This is the reason why many people hang maps on their walls, even paper their walls with maps or collect map-related objects.
Matthew Cusick approaches maps as part of a palette of colour, shade, texture and meaning which he weaves onto the canvas along with acrylic paint. Rather than simply using just paint, he uses pieces of maps from which he creates a collage to bring to life an artistic work. Kara’s wave makes considerable use of topographic maps and bathymetric charts. He has built a picture of the wave using maps and at a distance it appears no different to any other painting. Placement of the maps is not accidental or random. The shapes of the pieces gives shape to the overall piece and we can see the swirling mass of water take shape. Textual components follow the same lines and ingeniously, a polar azimuthal projection of Antarctica is used as the fulcrum of the crashing wave…the circular shape adding to the motion and the white landmass suggesting the foamy wash.
Maps as art give them a new life perhaps when their original purpose has waned. They certainly give artists a rich medium with which to work. Cusick has many other examples such as an image of a car…made predominantly of street maps which blends the map type perfectly with the picture’s theme once again. Many more of his works can be seen on his web site here.