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Earth-Mapping: Artists Reshaping Landscape

Edward S. Casey
Copyright Date: 2005
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Edward Casey describes the ways in which artists of the past half century have incorporated ingenious mapping techniques into their artworks. Casey follows Robert Smithson's legacy in the works of Sandy Gellis, Margot McLean, and Michelle Stuart. He also explores the visions of the earth found in the abstract paintings of Richard Diebenkorn, Jasper Johns, Willem de Kooning, Eve Ingalls, and Dan Rice.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9585-0
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Prologue: Mapping It Out with/in the Earth
    (pp. xiii-xxiv)

    One might have thought that in the late modern and postmodern worlds painting and mapping had long since parted ways. Cartography has become increasingly rigorous and demanding, to the point that the pictographic and topographic elements that were such important features of earlier maps (e.g., in late medieval portolan charts and in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Dutch world maps) have been virtually eliminated. Even the purely decorative components of maps, so widely employed in the most diverse cultural settings, have ceded place to strictly utilitarian symbols that have to do with the measurement of space rather than with the landscape of...

  6. Part I. Earth Works That Map

    • Chapter 1 Mapping with Earth Works: Robert Smithson on the Site
      (pp. 3-26)

      In most conventional views of mapping, a map is about the earth. It is about it in the sense of giving information concerning it, furnishing data about its extent and shape, its primary and secondary features. In order to achieve this goal of most modern cartographic mapping, the map must also be about the earth in another way: it must hover about the earth, taking a view from above, an aerial view that purports to be at once objective and comprehensive. Not surprisingly, then, most post-Renaissance maps in the West provide plan views, as if the map were a window...

    • Chapter 2 Memorial Mapping of the Land: Materiality in the Work of Margot McLean
      (pp. 27-40)

      Earth-mapping comes in many forms. Robert Smithson, in his very short career, explored several of these—indeed, invented them. Each of these stood outside the domain of “painting” as this term is conventionally understood; in fact, Smithson had worked in paint at one early point but gave it up entirely to engage in earth work. But there are other ways of mapping the earth that can be pursued within traditional artistic media, including paint. The work of Margot McLean is a scintillating case in point. This New York–based artist creates neither earth works in Smithson’s sense nor “land works”...

    • Chapter 3 Mapping Down in Space and Time: Sandy Gellis Collecting Traces
      (pp. 41-56)

      Sandy Gellis has been active on the New York art scene for more than thirty years. She has been engaged in a remarkable variety of projects in diverse media and in quite different formats, ranging from drawing and printmaking to outdoor sculpture and indoor installations. Despite the variety, a strong mapping impulse has sustained her work and renders it coherent from one end to the other: from her “Condensed Spaces” (mid-1970s) to her recent “Ocean Fragments” (1997–2000). The impulse is realized differently on different occasions, but every occasion offers opportunity to explore what it means to create anelemental...

    • Chapter 4 Plotting and Charting the Path: Voyaging to the Ends of the Earth with Michelle Stuart
      (pp. 57-90)

      Michelle Stuart, by her own profession, was “placed in space from an early age.”¹ Her prolific career as an artist of the elements had manifold familial and geographic origins. Her mother had come from Switzerland, and she was Scotch-Irish on her paternal side: both parents had immigrated to America. Her father was a water-rights engineer as well as a colonel in the U.S. Navy who had traveled widely in the South Pacific in World War II. Ancestral Stuarts had migrated to New Zealand from Scotland. Travel was in the genes. Journeys—moving from place to place—were continually recounted in...

    • Concluding Reflections to Part I
      (pp. 91-104)

      The four artists discussed in this first half of the book share some striking things. Three of them (Gellis, Stuart, and Smithson) enclosed their early work in carefully constructed boxes. These boxes not only take the place of traditional frames around paintings; they also serve to demarcate a sense of interior location: not just in a gallery but in a protected place within the gallery itself. They act to relocate twice over: from the surrounding world (the “site,” in Smithson’s language) to the public space of the gallery, then from this space of exposure to a place of containment (both...

    • [Illustrations]
      (pp. None)
  7. Part II. Mapping the Landscape in Paintings

    • Chapter 5 Getting Oriented to the Earth: Eve Ingalls Bringing Line and Paint to Bear
      (pp. 107-122)

      Of the five artists to be considered in this second part, at least four are known for doing landscape painting in some distinctive form, but allmap landscapesin some significant sense. Two of the five literally incorporate cartographic elements into their paintings (Johns, Ingalls), while the others map in decidedly noncartographic ways (de Kooning, Diebenkorn, Rice). Moreover, Johns and Ingalls are very differently cartographic: where Johns at once celebrates and mocks the standard map of America, deliberately blurring geographical detail and barely delineating state boundaries, Ingalls makes selected use of certain basic cartographic techniques in creating works that are...

    • Chapter 6 Maps and Fields: Jasper Johns and Richard Diebenkorn on Icons and the Land
      (pp. 123-138)

      By the early 1950s, the art scene in New York had come to be dominated by abstract expressionism—most notably, by Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline, and Willem de Kooning. This most American of directions had grown out of the surrealist movement as it had been transplanted to New York during World War II and just after (Arshile Gorky being the crucial bridge figure). The lyricism and transcendentalism of abstract expressionism, along with its subjectivity and sheer romanticism, were well suited for landscape painting, as we shall see. In its very intensity, it failed to reflect the realities of the cold...

    • Chapter 7 Absorptive versus Cartographic Mapping: Willem de Kooning on Bodies Moving in the Landscape
      (pp. 139-152)

      Willem de Kooning maps in his paintings without ever passing through a phase in which mapping as such is a self-evident presence. There is no early phase of his work in which fragments of maps, or bare allusions to maps, can be found; nor are there any chorographic or topographic sequelae.¹ Instead of looking for such fragments or allusions or sequelae, we need to consider de Kooning’s painting as containing its own mode of mapping: in short, as a form of mapping that does not present itself as mapping in any obvious sense. Hence the new paradox to be explored:...

    • Chapter 8 Locating the General in the Earth Itself: Dan Rice on Biding Time in Place
      (pp. 153-166)

      Another painter of absorptive bent is Dan Rice, who resided in Madison, Connecticut, in the later part of his career and who was significantly influenced, personally and professionally, by de Kooning (as well as by Franz Kline and Mark Rothko). Rice pursued his own version of mapping absorptively. The paintings that resulted are at once more pacific and more subtle than de Kooning’s agitated incursions into the landscape. They exemplify a lyrical sublimity that is unique in contemporary painting, a vision of patient adherence to the natural world that is in no way to be regarded as its pictorial representation....

    • Last Thoughts on Part II
      (pp. 167-174)

      Underlying the last two modes of mapping as set forth in the prologue—that is, mapping with/in and mapping out—is a pair of further factors: “diachronic density” and the “body as a basis.” I would like to address each of these briefly and then to suggest a more general model of the process underlying painting that maps absorptively.

      (i)diachronic density.By this I mean that the experience pertinent to mapping the land (whether that of the mapmaker or the mapviewer) is never simply a unique or single experience, no matter how convincing this may be. The mapping that...

  8. Epilogue: Wherefore Earth-Mapping?
    (pp. 175-192)

    If maps and paintings are considered as ways of representing the world in images drawn or painted on flat paper or canvas, they seem very different from each other, without common ground. It is tempting to think that a painting is a colorful rendering of the world as we perceive it, capturing it in a tableau that, however dynamic it may be in its coloration or movement, fixes the painter’s vision in a lasting way. Hence we “hang” paintings on walls, as if they were just so much dead weight; we put them, thus immobilized, into living rooms and museums...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 193-226)
  10. Permissions
    (pp. 227-228)
  11. Index
    (pp. 229-242)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 243-243)