Jasper Johns’ Map: My Favourite Travel Art

When I travel, I don’t often spend much time in galleries and museums. I enjoy them, but I’m very quick and efficient when I visit them, and tend to be almost inhumanely speedy in making the rounds. My friend and I once made it through the Louvre in a half an hour. I’m not lying.

The one exception I have is the MoMA in New York.

When it comes to art, my window of love is rather narrow, spanning from about the 1860s to about the 1960s. I like impressionism, expressionism, cubism, dadaism, neo-dadaism, pop art, etc etc…essentially “modern art”, hence why I love the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art).

My favourite artists? Well. Lots. Cezanne, Van Gogh, Rothko, Picasso, Lichtenstein, Toulouse-Lautrec…the list is long. My absolute favourite? Jasper Johns.

Now, Jasper Johns has a special place in my books, not only because I love his penchant for encaustic, popular imagery, but because of his piece, Map.

Map, the painting by Jasper Johns at the MoMA, New York

Map (1961), by Jasper Johns, at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York

You know when a visual just sits with you, and makes you not just happy, but content?

That’s how I feel about Map.

I love maps, and Johns’ representation of the US map is something I can’t help but adore (despite the fact that I’m not American). This new representation of an iconic and conventional image is fantastic because of the way it reimagines the norm, yet maintains elements that are standard in maps – labelling, borders, and regional distinction through colour.

(There’s a great blog post from The Map Scroll that extrapolates on why this work of art is so compelling to us map nerds).

Map indulges my inner map nerd and my love for modern art, and this is why, even though I’ve been to the MoMA more than enough times, I keep going back. It’s as though visiting Map is my own little pilgrimage of sorts.

Even though I’m not a museum and gallery girl, Map‘s allure keeps pulling me back.

Do you have a favourite piece of art or exhibition or museum or gallery that you can visit over and over and over again?

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Portraits by Hans Holbein the Younger (esp Henry VIII) and portraits by Velazquez (esp Philip IV). Can’t get enough! They’re so dark and gloomy and mysterious.

    1. Oh good ones! I really do like Velasquez as well. I remember studying his work in school. You’re right, they’re so mysterious…and to know they had to sit there, painstakingly, and pose for ages!

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