In the 1990s, Paula Scher began painting colorful typographic maps of the world, its continents, countries, islands, oceans, cities, streets and neighborhoods. Obsessive, opinionated and more than a little personal, the paintings were a reaction against information overload and the constant stream of news, which, like the paintings, present skewed versions of reality in a deceptively authoritative way. The paintings are collected for the first time in Paula Scher: MAPS, a new book out now from Princeton Architectural Press.
MAPS presents 39 paintings, drawings, prints and environmental installations, including Scher’s recent commission for New York City’s Queens Metropolitan Campus. Many of Scher’s original paintings are huge—as tall as 12 feet—and the book reproduces the works in full and in life-size details that reveal layers of hand-painted place names, information and cultural commentary. The book’s jacket folds out into a 3’ by 2’ poster of a portion of World Trade, one of Scher’s most recent paintings, from 2010.
The book opens with an essay by Scher about the influence of her father, a photogrammetic engineer who worked on aerial photography for the U.S. Geological Service in the 1950s and taught her that maps were never totally accurate. (The essay’s title: “All Maps Lie.”) Scher’s father invented a measuring device called Stereo Templates that corrected lens distortions when aerial photography was enlarged for printed maps. Simon Winchester, author of The Map That Changed the World, contributes the book’s foreword, about the charm of maps in the age of GPS.
Tonight Scher will be discussing MAPS at a lecture presented by AIGA/NY at Parsons The New School for Design. The event is sold out. She will be signing copies of the book at a public reception at Rizzoli Bookstore at 31 West 57th Street in New York on Wednesday, October 26 at 5:30 pm.
Since opening in 2009, the High Line, the elevated railway turned public oasis on Manhattan’s West Side, has become one of New York’s most popular parks. It has also become a definitive case study in urban design, inspiring grass-roots movements in other cities to save and re-purpose industrial structures. High Line: The Inside Story of New York City’s Park in the Sky is a new book by Joshua David and Robert Hammond, the founders of Friends of the High Line, that tells the story of the project. The book is structured as a lively dialogue between David and Hammond, tracing the story from the origins of their idea to save the structure after meeting at a 1999 community hearing about its possible demolition, through the opening of the High Line’s second section this summer.
Pentagram’s Paula Scher has designed the book using the identity and graphics she created for the High Line. Following Davis and Hammond’s narrative, the second half of the book is a portfolio of images from throughout the park’s development. The cover features a debossed image of the logo Scher originally developed for Friends of the High Line, later adopted as the symbol of the park, and the book employs the new NYC Parks green to signal the High Line’s partnership with the city.
Recent weather notwithstanding, water remains a precious resource in New York City. Famed for its gravity-fed aqueducts, the city’s water supply is remarkably reliable and known for its quality. However, the city faces growing demand, the continual danger of system shutdowns, and the cost of increasing energy consumption for wastewater treatment. To meet these challenges, PlaNYC 2030, the city’s official strategy for sustainability, has identified conservation as fundamental to protecting the water network, and the New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC) has established comprehensive guidelines for efficient water use in buildings throughout the city.
Working with the DDC, Pentagram’s Eddie Opara and team have designed Water Matters: A Design Manual for Water Conservation in Buildings. Using a bold and playful system of information graphics, the book presents the city’s recommendations for this important initiative in an engaging and accessible manner. The book has been selected for AIGA’s prestigious 50 Books/50 Covers awards.
The work of the Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Errol Morris is characterized by a relentless search for the truth. Believing Is Seeing (Observations on the Mysteries of Photography)is a new book by Morris that, with intelligence, skepticism and humor, examines several famous, contentious photographs to examine how what we see is affected by what we believe. The book has been adapted from several blog posts Morris originally wrote for the New York Times’ Opinionator blog. The historic images discussed include Roger Fenton’s photograph of the Valley of the Shadow of Death taken during in the Crimean War; controversial images of torture at Abu Ghraib, including the infamous “hooded man”; and images of toys photographed during the bombing of Beirut in the Israeli-Lebanese war of 2006.
Pentagram’s Michael Bierut and Yve Ludwig have designed the book in the straightforward manner of Morris’s arguments, highlighting the interplay between text and image, the “believing” and the “seeing.”
The United States is represented at this year’s Venice Biennale by Gloria, a striking installation by the artist team of Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla. Pentagram’s Abbott Miller has designed the catalogue for the exhibition, one of the Biennale’s controversial highlights.
Based in Puerto Rico, Allora & Calzadilla’s work is known for its political edge and subversive humor. Installed in the U.S. Pavilion, Gloria is a broad commentary on U.S. nationalism, consumerism and global competitiveness on the international stage (including art biennials). Its works include Track and Field, a performance in which U.S. Olympian Dan O’Brien runs on a treadmill placed on an upside-down tank; Body in Flight (American) and Body in Flight (Delta), in which teams of gymnasts perform routines on the first- and business-class seats of the two airlines; and Armed Freedom Lying on a Sunbed, a replica of Armed Freedom, the neo-Classical statue from the dome of the U.S. Capitol, placed in a tanning bed.
Pentagram Austin Partner DJ Stout met photographer James H. Evans in 1988, about the time that Stout began working as the art director of Texas Monthly magazine. Evans, who had just moved to the Big Bend, became Stout’s go-to photographer in that remote West Texas region and shot many assignments for him over his 13 year career at the renowned regional publication. In 2003 Stout and Associate Partner Julie Savasky designed Evans’s first monograph, Big Bend Pictures, and now they have designed his newest book, Crazy from the Heat. The new volume, with its quirky title penned by Stout, is published by the University of Texas Press and began hitting bookstores this month.
“What was challenging from a design perspective about this book compared to the first one was the wide variety of imagery,” says Stout. “The pictures in Big Bend Pictures were all shot in the same format with the same toning. This book is definitely more frenetic. Kind of like the artist himself.”
Laurence King Publishing has celebrated its 20th anniversary with the release of its Autumn 2011 trade catalogue. The catalogue also marks Angus Hyland’s sixth anniversary as the company’s creative director.
In his introduction Laurence King writes, “Design has always been at the centre of our list.” He goes on to announce the launch of the “100 Ideas that Changed…” series, designed by Hyland and his team. The series shows that the ideas that shaped the history of the visual arts still play a key role now.
Quick Link: Angus Hyland’s Nabokov Covers in The Atlantic
Quick Link: Angus Hyland’s Nabokov Covers in Fast Company