Maps have always been beautiful things: they’re the place where utilitarian design meets abstract expressionism, and each one comes with a promise of secrets and adventure within. But you can’t help get the feeling, in the age of Google Maps, that some of that wonder has been lost.
It’s kind of amazing to be able to zoom around so quickly in a world map that fits in your palm, and to waste hours virtually exploring Google Earth. All the same, seeing the world through the eyes of a computer lacks a certain charm. So the people at Credit Card Compare decided to create a new set of city maps – as the famous artists of the respective cities might have seen them.
The journey begins in Tokyo, with contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama. Born in 1929 in Matsumoto, Kusama is still going strong today at 89 years of age! While she’s seen artist movements come and go (she’s been associated with Art Brut, pop art, and abstract expressionism among many others), she’ll be familiar to most readers for her manic use of colorful polka dots.
Famous for being unknown, the anonymous street artist known as Banksy is said to wander the streets of London, where he even has a self-styled “Designated Graffiti Area,” behind the city’s Cargo Club – and where, ironically, it’s impossible to add conventional graffiti since his works have been protected behind plexiglass.
His trademark stencil-and-spray-can aesthetic is perfect for the urban cartography of the Banksy London map.
Leonardo da Vinci actually did make maps, and it’s no surprise when you consider how iconic his diagrammatic architecture and invention sketches have become. Much of his work can be seen and studied at the museum that bears his name in Florence today; he was in the region nearly 600 years ago. His ‘new’ map of Florence bears the hallmarks of his various artistic practices.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
One of the most famous artists of all time- A golden straw-coloured map whose thick, whirly impasto you just want to stick your finger into? It can only be Vincent van Gogh, the Dutch Post-Impressionist who could often be seen meandering the streets of Amsterdam in the late 19th century.
New York, USA
It’ll be screen prints and the unlikely appearance of gigantic soup cans in the suburbs for Andy Warhol’s map of NYC. His parents were migrants from Austria-Hungary (an area that is now in Slovakia) and despite being American born and bred, Warhol continued to apply an outsider’s wide-eyed amazement to his artistic interpretations of American culture.
Sir Sidney Nolan’s Quixote-like depiction of Australia’s wild “west” have made him inseparable from the public perception of the country’s landscape. It’s only fitting his famous Ned Kelly should find is way onto the Nolan map of Melbourne!
Johannesburg, South Africa
A map is in many ways a political document – and the William Kentridge-style map of Johannesburg emphasizes several areas of historical-political interest in Kentridge’s charcoal style. These are places that need to be visited when you travel the region.
Speaking of ways to see new cities, check out our blog post: Top Tips for Exploring a New City in the BEST Way!
Which famous artists would create a map for your hometown, and what would it look like?