My newest art crush is Paula Scher! I have always been in love with maps. My Grandfather had a superb collection of maps, since the time he was a child in Austria, vienna to be exact. He had kept a record of how the borders were constantly changing depending on who won the war!
These maps are such an amazing interpretation! i hope you enjoy this post! Much love, Jamie!
In the early 1990s, renowned graphic designer Paula Scher began painting small, opinionated maps—colorful depictions of continents and regions, covered from top to bottom by a scrawl of words. Within a few years, the maps grew larger and more elaborate.
“I began painting these things sort of in a silly way,” Scher, a partner at the Pentagram design firm, said in a recent conversation. “And I think at one point I realized they would be amazing big. And I wondered if I could even do it. If I could actually paint these things on such a grand scale, what would happen?”
All of this detail is the result of work that Scher describes as “incredibly laborious and obsessive”—yet the paintings as a whole don’t feel like the product of tortured obsession; rather, they exude a sort of whimsical, brassy ingenuity. And, unlike their predecessors, the maps in the
exhibition eschew opinion in favor of a barrage of facts—or at least the appearance of fact. “They’re all wrong,” Scher says. “I mean, nothing’s in the right spot. I put in what I feel like. It’s my comment on information in general. We receive a lot of information all the time and mostly it’s lies or slight mistruths.”
Even so, the paintings throb with implication. As Scher explains, “The way the maps work is that they’re total abstractions, and yet they have all this meaning attached to them.” The map of Florida in 2000 jumps out with obvious political import; the state is labeled by county, and the surrounding
black Gulf ripples with the corresponding presidential election results. Yet, Scher’s paintings are at their best when meaning remains tantalizingly elusive. Look at her grand, multicolored patchwork of the United States, reminiscent of the U.S. maps that span the inside cover of many elementary school textbooks.
Up close the painting overwhelms the eye with detail, but step back and it’s the same handsome, lumbering, forthright America we all grew up with—laid open to inspection, hiding nothing, and yet fundamentally inscrutable. This ambiguity lies at the heart of Scher’s cluttered, precise, beautiful maps—
and, unlike real maps, you seem to grow more lost the longer you look at them.