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Paula Scher

Paula Scher
All Over the Map

9th October - 8th November 2020

Online Exhibition

“I began painting maps to invent my own complicated narrative about the way I see and feel about the world. I wanted to list what I know about the world from memory, from impressions, from media, and from general information overload. These are paintings of distortions.”

– Paula Scher

Sims Reed Gallery is delighted to present the work of Paula Scher for the first time to European audiences. One of the most internationally acclaimed graphic designers, Scher is a partner at the iconic design consultancy Pentagram. Her lifelong love of typography and deep interest in maps, which were inspired by her father, have led her to create her own interpretation of maps, both as screenprints and paintings. Scher’s macrocosms are intrinsically absurd while feeling familiar. Her latest series of screenprints highlights over-stimulation in our modern age and the constant advertising, news, signs and symbols that surround us in our everyday lives. The artist’s unequivocal renderings of abundance are in some sense a meta-study of semiotics, within its own distinctive Scherian satire.

Paula Scher’s work on the theme of maps represent drawings, prints and environmental installations that have been extracted from aerial photography commissioned for the U.S. Geological Service in the 1950s.

The artist traces her fascination with maps back to her childhood. Her father, a civil engineer for the United States Geological Survey, specialised in photogrammetry – the use of photography in surveying and mapping to measure distances between objects. With her father’s acumen as reference, Scher learned that maps were never totally accurate, and as cheekily expressed by Scher, that in fact, “all maps lie.” Scher’s father’s contribution to the history of map-making evolved to be monumental: he is inventor of a measuring device called Stereo Templates, which corrected lens distortions when aerial photography was enlarged for printed maps. This invention ultimately became the foundation for what we now know as Google Maps.

Each Map of Scher’s is a unique rendering, full of information about the World; oceans, cities, streets or neighbourhoods are all represented, and each with attention to a specific area of interest and inspection, be that the winding curves that make up a highway system or a region as seen in zip codes. Not quite abstract works, despite their obscured representation, Scher’s Maps are instead overlaid with layers of information for the viewers; they are powerful infographics of expression that explore the many angles from which to view the microcosms of the world at large.

The latest series of Maps are focused on locations where artists, who are much admired by Scher and the publisher, had lived or spent meaningly time: London, Berlin, Tokyo, Rome, USA and the World Trade Routes.

(Banner image of the artist in the studio © Paula Scher)

The World Trade Routes – the unifying surface and continuous pool of inspiration for Scher and all artists alike.

The home of the British Pop artist Sir Peter Blake, who the publisher commissioned in 2005 to create the Homage to Schwitter series.

Home to Scher and also the meeting grounds for the publisher and Andy Warhol when they collaborated on the edition of Wayne Gretzky in 1984.

Scher’s screenprints were printed in collaboration with the Brooklyn-based master printer Alexander Heinrici who has worked since the late 1960s and whose client list has included Andy Warhol, Willem de Kooning, Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Indiana, among others.

Cy Twombly’s city and home away from home for decades.

The city where Ai Weiwei – an artist much admired by Scher – lived until his recent move to the UK and created the monumental work 14,000 Refugee Life Jackets.

The domicile of the playful and inventive Takashi Murakami, whose audiences have enjoyed Scher’s exhibitions there.

Paula Scher © Pentagram

Biography

Paula Scher (b. 1948) is one of the most acclaimed graphic designers in the world. She has been a Partner in the New York office of the iconic international design consultancy Pentagram since 1991, where she has designed identity and branding systems, environmental graphics, packaging and publications for a wide range of clients that includes, among others, Citibank, Microsoft, Bloomberg, Shake Shack, the Museum of Modern Art, Tiffany & Co, the High Line, the Public Theater, the Metropolitan Opera, the Sundance Institute and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

She is the author of Make It Bigger (Princeton Architectural Press, 2002), MAPS (Princeton Architectural Press, 2011) and Works (Unit Editions, 2017).

Scher holds a BFA from the Tyler School of Art and a Doctor of Fine Arts Honoris Causa from the Corcoran College of Art and Design, the Maryland Institute College of Art and Moore College of Art and Design. A documentary on her and her work can be seen in the 2017 Netflix series Abstract: The Art of Design.

Discover more about Paula Scher in the documentary series “Abstract: The Art of Design,” (Netflix, 2017). The show explores the lives and ideas of leading figures in design and architecture, with each episode focusing on a single creator and their practice. Scher’s entry, directed by the noted documentary filmmaker Richard Press (of “Bill Cunningham New York”), looks at the influence New York City has had on the designer’s work, her lifelong love of typography, and the map paintings she creates alongside her client projects. See below.

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