Modernist Maps of Mitteleuropa: Avant-garde Artists and Atlas Design in Central Europe, 1930–1955

When: Thursday March 22, 12:30
Where: Seminar Room, International Center

Benjamin Benus

Benjamin Benus

Modern art’s transformative impact on early twentieth-century Europe’s visual culture has been documented in a range of areas, from advertising and political propaganda to product design and scientific illustration. Atlas and map design constitutes another field—though one less well documented—to which avant-garde artists and designers also made significant contributions.


In the period between the 1920s and the 1950s, a network of predominantly Central European modernists (among them, Otto and Marie Neurath, Gerd Arntz, Ladislav Sutnar, and Herbert Bayer) collaborated with cartographers and historians to produce maps for print publications and exhibition displays. Through their innovative approaches to design, their work transformed the look of popular geographic presentations. In this talk for the Center Austria, Benjamin Benus examines Central European modernists’ contributions to the field of atlas design and considers the roles that “modernist maps” played in shaping readers’ worldviews.

Benjamin Benus is Assistant Professor of Art History at Loyola University New Orleans. He specializes in the history of twentieth-century art and design, and has written about intersections between avant-garde art and data visualization in interwar Europe. His publications include “Figurative Constructivism and Sociological Graphics,” in the volume Isotype: Design and Contexts, 1925–1971 (Hyphen Press, 2013), and “The Vienna Method in Amsterdam: Peter Alma’s Office for Pictorial Statistics” (co-authored with Wim Jansen), in the spring 2016 issue of Design Issues (MIT Press).