Photo Essays

Famous Artists Asked to Draw a Map of the US from Memory

by Mostafa Heddaya on September 6, 2013

VAR-1 From Memory- Takahashi Hisachika version 2

Hisachika Takahashi illustrates the concept of his From Memory project (all images courtesy Sean Kelly gallery)

Jorge Luis Borges’ well-known short story “On Exactitude in Science” describes a faded Empire in which a Cartographer’s Guild had attained such fidelity in their trade that tattered maps were perfectly superimposed upon the mouldering ruin of the land itself. An exhibition opening September 13 at Sean Kelly gallery imagines the inverse, pairing memory and cartography to explore the abstractions produced when mental and physical space are entwined. The show, titled From Memory, presents a 1971–1972 project by Hisachika Takahashi in which the Japanese artist, then living in New York, asked 22 of his peers to draw the United States from memory.

That group included a number of significant participants, including Jasper Johns, Joseph Kosuth, Robert Rauschenberg, and Gordon Matta-Clark. Each respondent imbued their drawing with the kinks of their memory and the idiosyncrasies of their aesthetic expression, each map a depiction of physical territory as mediated by an indelible and highly personal process of knowing and remembering.

VAR-1 From Memory- Twombly Cy

Cy Twombly

VAR-1 From Memory- Rosenquist James recto

James Rosenquist (recto)

VAR-1 From Memory- Rockburne Dorothea

Dorothea Rockburne

VAR-1 From Memory- Rauschenberg Robert

Robert Rauschenberg

VAR-1 From Memory- Matta-Clark Gordon

Gordon Matta-Clark

VAR-1 From Memory- Bochner Mel edited

Mel Bochner

VAR-1 From Memory- Kosuth Joseph edited

Joseph Kosuth

From Memory is on view at Sean Kelly gallery (475 Tenth Avenue, Chelsea, Manhattan) from September 13 through October 19, with an opening reception on September 12 from 6–8pm.

  • Get Hyperallergic in your Inbox!

    Subscribe to our email newsletter. (Daily or Weekly)

Hyperallergic welcomes comments and a lively discussion, but comments are moderated after being posted. For more details please read our comment policy.
  • Katy

    No love for Hawaii or Alaska?

  • Darryl Croft

    no katy

  • Lauren Cooper

    this is rather predictable and uninteresting. I much more enjoy the ones where the artist actually tried.

  • John Londong

    no love for bochner

  • dirkambient

    cy wins
    as usual

  • blah

    this proves most artists are pompous wankers

  • menloman

    Good plan to humble the pretensions of artists as educated people.

  • Stephen Bounds

    Look! The emperor has no clothes!

Previous post:

Next post: