Coffee Table Gallery
Where We Are
Two books of maps, real and imagined: the Oxford Atlas of The World and The Map as Art.
The Oxford Atlas of the World (Oxford University Press), first published in 1992, is currently in its sixteenth edition. Along with its superb production values, acclaimed cartographical accuracy, satellite imagery, and large aggregation of geographical information and statistics, the Atlas is updated every year to respond to elections, ware, shifting demographics, and natural cataclysms.
This large but manageable book has a user’s guide, a glossary, the Gazetteer of Nations, which gives a concise A-Z profile of all the planet’s nations, and as you might expect maps in all sizes and configurations.
Though I am content to admire maps in their undiluted practical applications or informational modality, Katharine Harmon (You Are Here: Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination) has assembled a fascinating compendium of 360 maps by artistsEd Ruscha, Julian Schnabel, Olafur Eliasson, Maira Kalman, William Kentridge, and 150 othersin a monograph entitled The Map as Art: Contemporary Artists Explore Cartography (Princeton Architectural Press). Art historian Gayle Clemans contributes some illuminating essays, though the images are certainly articulate on their own.
Both volumes are a treatone charts paths that can and have been taken, the other, trails blazed by imaginations. It’s a nice choice to have.