The Julie Saul Gallery is pleased to announce a group exhibition on the theme of mapping. The show will include historical maps and works by a wide range of contemporary artists working in a variety of mediums including painting, collage, drawing, photography and printmaking.
Maps have been a compelling theme for contemporary artists throughout the twentieth century. The ever evolving systems used to record distances and terrain, the shifting of geopolitical borders, our increasing understanding of space- both near and distant- have offered visual and conceptual inspiration and springboards for provocative contemporary work. Artists have looked backward and forward for their cartographic inspiration and visual sources. For example Joyce Kozloff in her recent project Boys Art combines quotes of historical maps, with collage elements derived from her son's childhood combat drawings and other narrative elements. Elaine Lustig Cohen uses a map of Berlin and collage elements to create a biographical portrait of the architect Mies van der Rohe. Gonzalo Puch, a conceptual photographer from Seville creates a homage to Vermeer with a burning telescope as if to literally ignite the excitement of scientific exploration.
In order to establish a precedent for both the artifice and subjectivity of the cartographic tradition, the exhibition will include three fascinating examples of early maps: a world map from 1493- before word had gotten out that the earth is round, a 16th century map of Europe depicted upside down, and a 17th century map of the Northeast in which the Dutch publisher pirated an earlier map and inserted his own changes- an early act of appropriation.
The arbitrary yet fixed nature of measurements and scientific systems was a rich source for Marcel Duchamp- and no one who encounters the standard stoppages can help but apply the illogical elegance of that concept to any system we encounter in daily lives.
Two map works of Benin by Jennifer Bartlett from a new series about Africa point to the complicated relationships between countries and form a commentary on the arbitrary nature of the divisions we use. The use of names or text according to alternative systems is another mapping strategy as seen in the work of the Irish artist Kathy Prendergast. She is known for her exquisite drawings of international capitol cities and has been working with mapping software since 1999. Her large map of America is an accurate rendering of state borders, topography, rivers and lakes, but the only places identified with a name are those that include the word "Lost"- the title of the work.
Another example of linguistic shenanigans is Maira Kalman and Rick Meyerowitz's NewYorkistan map. The show will include an original study and final version of the well known New Yorker cover. The humorous "Balkanizing" of New York neighborhoods to names like "The Moolahs" for Wall Street and "Gaymanistan" for Chelsea, helped mitigate our urban anxiety, and provided the first opportunity to laugh after 9/11. Several examples from Italian conceptual photographer Luigi Ghirri's Atlante (atlas) series from 1973 break up maps into tiny details of text and graphics, which when enlarged become subtle and beautiful abstractions.
Vik Muniz has created a topographical map of Antartica using sugar and other granulated materials with his usual Duchampian playfulness- in a color work from 1996. Abe Morell humorously evokes topography by his crumpled map series in which he literally creates a "lake" by the addition of water. Jonathan Callan and Doug Beube use books and maps to recreate meaning by unlikely segues and juxtapositions, as does Charles Luce in his proposal to combine the rivers of the world. The graphic techniques and stylistic conventions of cartography are sometimes used by artists in purely abstract ways as seen in the work of Dan Zeller and Lordy Rodriguez.