Magazine article The World and I

Mapping Our World - What Is a Map?

Magazine article The World and I

Mapping Our World - What Is a Map?

Article excerpt

With what expectations do we view a map? When does a map become art? Or when does art become a map?

Above: Perhaps the most common expectation of a map is that it will show us what some geographical territory looks like in a way that could be useful as a guide if we were traveling. The above world map, created by a cartographer in Antwerp, Belgium, in the late 1500s, not only shows the known regions with some accuracy but also includes blank space representing the terra incognito. The map features Magellan's route by which he circumnavigated the earth in 1520.

Opposite: Is Camille Pisarro's painting Route de Louveciennes a map? Does it show a geographical territory? Would it be a useful guide if we were traveling? If it isn't a map, then why isn't it?

Looking at Pisarro's painting, we can ask ourselves how far down the street we are looking. Could we see a child at the end of the street? …

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