Monday, February 01, 2021

Mapping Cubism

I am a huge fan of Jason Farago's art criticism for the New York Times. His close readings of famous works of art are illustrated with interactive scrollytelling paintings. Farago's critiques owe a lot to the navigation and presentation techniques developed for online interactive maps. As you progress through one of his close readings the interactive painting zooms and pans to illustrate Farago's observations of the artist's work.

Farago's previous critiques of individual paintings include:

In his latest article for the New York Times Farago looks at the work of Cubist artist Juan Gris' "Still Life: The Table". In An Art Revolution, Made With Scissors and Glue Farago explores Gris' use of collage to create a new form of painting. As well as the close reading of Gris' Still Life collage the essay explores the influence of works of art by Cezanne and the sculptures of African artists on the Cubist movement. 

If you are familiar with the Leaflet.js mapping library then you can create your own interactive painting critiques - using image tiles from paintings instead of map tiles. Museums and art galleries around the world use the iiif format to present artworks as zoomable images. This means that for many works of art, if they have a iiif manifest, you don't even have to create the image tiles for yourself.

The fantastic leaflet-iiif plugin allows you to seamlessly use iiif manifests with the Leaflet mapping platform.This means that you can quickly turn any painting with a iiif manifest into an interactive Leaflet map. You can view a demo of this in action on my own The Drawing Lesson critique. In this scrollytelling examination of Jan Steen's painting (depicting an artist teaching two young pupils how to draw) I have used the Leaflet mapping library to take a close look at Steen's 17th century Dutch masterpiece. 

You can explore how my critique of the Drawing Lesson works by exploring the JavaScript code on its Glitch page. You can even clone the page if you want and use the page as a template for creating your own interactive scrollytelling painting essay.

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